“American Crime Story” explores the possibility that Versace had AIDS, but it may not be the truth
When it comes to American Crime Story, we’re going to get a lot of fact mixed in with fiction — that’s just the Ryan Murphy flair for dramatics. It happened with the first season of the show, The People vs. O.J. Simpson, and it’s continuing with the Murder of Gianni Versace. The Versace family has already come out against the series, stating that it’s not at all accurate, and the second episode of the series, “Manhunt,” gave us a glimpse into why they think that. American Crime Story very much suggests that Versace had AIDS, although that’s not a 100% proven or accepted fact.
While it’s been widely speculated, and Versace biographer Maureen Orth first stated it in her book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, there’s no concrete proof that Versace was actually diagnosed with AIDS, let alone HIV. However, lead Miami Beach detective Paul Scrimshaw claims that he saw Versace’s autopsy report at the time of his death, which listed him as HIV positive; Orth writes this in her book.
However, the Versace family has denied this since even before Versace’s murder — they allegedly feared that a report that Versace had HIV or AIDS would hurt the company, and as we saw during the season premiere, they were getting ready to go public (until Donatella was like, NO). However, back in 1995, Versace went through chemotherapy for a “rare, inner-ear cancer,” and it was speculated at the time — and also, now — that the treatment was for HIV.
The Versace family had Versace cremated a mere 24 hours after he was killed, which is rare, apparently. This happened so that they could take his body back to Italy and allegedly hide traces of his diagnoses, for fear that even posthumously his HIV/AIDS could hurt the company.
We see this play out during the opening moments of “Manhunt.” Versace is at the hospital, consulting with doctors (the same doctor we saw last week who watched Versace wheeled into the ER). They discuss drugs and treatment, but still the words are never spoken aloud. At no point does the show state that Versace has HIV/AIDS, but it is heavily implied.
So we have what the show is telling us, and what the Versace family is denying. We’ll probably never know Versace’s truth.