Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was shot dead on the steps of his mansion in Miami, Florida on this day in 1997. He was 50 years old.
The couturier and business mogul was returning from a stroll to pick up newspapers and breakfast on Ocean Drive, and had just unlocked the gates of his home when a man in his mid-twenties pulled a gun from his backpack and shot him twice in the back of the head.
Versace, who had designed clothes for some of the world’s most famous women including Princess Diana, had only recently presented his latest collection in Paris. His stores around the world closed as a mark of respect.
By that evening, a huge manhunt had been instigated, after a weapon and clothing found in an abandoned pick-up truck was traced to a man named Andrew Cunanan – already on the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list in connection with four other murders.
Eight days later, Cunanan was traced by detectives to a houseboat moored less than three miles from Versace’s murder. After a stand-off lasting five hours, a SWAT team stormed the boat only to find that the 27-year-old had already committed suicide.
Cunanan was not known to Versace; though various theories have been suggested, no motive for his killing of the designer has ever been proved.
Princess Diana (pictured above, at his Milan memorial service) provided one of many tributes to Versace in the wake of his murder, saying she was "devastated at the loss of a great and talented man".
Fellow designer Georgio Armani added: "My reaction is one of revolt against such an unnatural and violent death."