Two men were found dead on Wednesday in the former Miami Beach mansion of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace. A housekeeper from the Ocean Drive estate, now The Villa Casa Casuarina Hotel, called police to report the discovery of the bodies in a guest room yesterday afternoon.
“This afternoon, at 1:21 p.m., MBPD responded to 1116 Ocean Drive after receiving a call from housekeeping advising of two deceased males,” the Miami Beach Police Department announced via Facebook. “Police and Fire Rescue responded and located two deceased males inside of a hotel room.”
MBPD spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez later told the Herald via telephone that both men died from a gunshot wound to the head, but did not reveal the order of the deaths or any further details. The Herald also reported family members declined to comment about the deaths when reached via telephone.
Their deaths came the day before the 24th anniversary of Versace’s murder by spree killer Andrew Cunanan on the steps of the mansion on July 15, 1997.
Versace was gunned down on the steps outside the mansion 24 years ago today after he had returned home from picking up his morning magazines. He was shot in the head at close range by the 27-year-old Cunanan, who had earlier murdered four other gay men over a three-month period. Versace was 50 at the time of his death. Cunanan’s body was discovered on a luxury houseboat in Miami Beach after a caretaker called the police to report the sound of a gunshot. Police say he died by suicide using the same gun that had killed his other victims.
The late fashion designer had started his career as an apprentice in his mother’s sewing business in Italy, eventually opening his own boutique in 1978 in Milan. As his popularity and reputation grew, he expanded his business empire to include jewelry and housewares, as well as working as a respected and in-demand costume designer for theatrical productions. It was during a costume fitting for a San Francisco Opera production that he first met his eventual killer in 1990.
Versace’s former mansion was built in 1930 and was originally a 24-unit luxury apartment building, with the owner Alden Freeman living in a unit on the top floor. The building passed through several owners following Freeman’s death before Versace purchased it in 1992 after seeing it on a walk down Ocean Drive while on vacation. He spent tens of millions of dollars renovating the building and turning it into a single residence. He was killed on the steps of his beloved home a mere five years after the purchase.
The property is now a 10-room luxury boutique hotel, with rooms priced at over $1,000 per night. The Villa Casa Casuarina Hotel also features a restaurant, bar, and a Mediterranean mosaic garden.
Police released a statement saying their preliminary investigation suggested the two men found dead had died by suicide. The men were later identified in a report by Miami Herald as Adam Rashap, 31, of Randolph, N.J., and Alexander Gross, 30, of York, Penn.