Jeff Trail. William Reese. David Madsen. Many of the characters depicted in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story are Andrew Cunanan’s victims, people who died without ever having their stories told. Some characters, though, like Antonio D’Amico, played by Ricky Martin on the show, are alive and well — and adjusting to having their pasts recreated on TV.
In the finale of American Crime Story, we see the tremendous toll that Versace's death took on d'Amico. In the show, D'Amico takes a bottle of pills, and is found by a maid soon before death. The real D'Amico is alive today, however, and has not opened up regarding past suicide attempts to the press.
At the time of Gianni Versace’s death in July 1997, he and D’Amico had been partners for over 15 years. They had met in 1982, when D’Amico was working part-time as an office executive for Versace’s company, in addition to being a model. Like Versace, D’Amico was also from Italy — he was born in 1959 in Mesagne, a province of Brindisi, Italy. He and Versace become partners in work, as well as life. D’Amico was brought on as a designer for Istante and Versace Sport, two of Versace’s clothing lines.
According to D’Amico, he and Versace never tried to hide their relationship from the world, even if American Crime Story depicts otherwise — in the show, Versace drops his hand from D'Amico's when paparazzi walk by. “We lived like a natural couple, there was never a problem. He never tried to hide who he was,” D'Amico told The Guardian. In the latest episode of American Crime Story, D'Amico and Versace give a joint interview, as they often did in real life.
D’Amico was the first person to find Versace’s body after he’d been shot by Cunanan outside the steps of his Miami mansion. He had been on the veranda when he heard the gunshot. “I felt as if my blood had turned to ice,” he recalled to The Guardian. “I saw Gianni lying on the steps, with blood around him. At that point, everything went dark. I was pulled away, I didn’t see any more.”
Following Versace’s murder, D’Amico, quite understandably, fell into a long depression. For one, his life changed drastically. He went from constantly socializing with celebrity A-Listers, to preferring solitude. Versace’s death also exaggerated the tensions that already existed between D’Amico and Versace’s extended family, especially his sister Donatella. Donatella never hid her feelings about D’Amico: "I respected him as the boyfriend of my brother, but I never liked him as a person,” she told the New York Times in 1999.
Tension came to a head during the discussion of Versace’s will. Versace had left D’Amico a monthly pension of $30,000, and the right to live in any of his residences. However, since the residences technically belonged to the company, Versace’s sister Donatella, his brother Santo, and his niece Allegra had the final call on who lived there.
Ultimately, Donatella prohibited D’Amico from moving into the house, and he received only a small percentage of the pension. He describes the period that came next as nightmarish. “I had never been through a depression and never saw a therapist as I was advised to; why did I need to tell someone else what had happened when I knew I was this way because Gianni’s death had torn me in two? I was in a nightmare, I felt nothing and gave no importance to anything...the house, the money...because it felt false to have expectations of life,” he told The Guardian.
After Versace’s death, D’Amico returned to Italy, and continued to work as a designer. In 1999, he unveiled his first signature collection. Elton John flew to Milan to attend the show. “He's my friend and he's been through hell in the last two years,'' John told The New York Times. ''I think you should show support for people when they are trying to do something.'' Santo and Donatella Versace were not in the audience.
Currently, D'Amico lives and works in Northern Italy with his partner, whom he met in 2005. In 2012, he and designer Massimo Lotti collaborated on a denim line called Pump. More recently, he launched a sportswear line.
D’Amico told The Guardian that while Versace will always be with him, he’s tried to move on. “You can look back at the past until a certain point, [but] then you need to look ahead to the future,” he said.
This can be hard to do, however, when American Crime Story is forcing you to relive your past. D’Amico is predisposed to thinking that everything depicted about his life in American Crime Story will be false, since he thinks everything, so far, has been. “There has been so much written and said about the murder, and thousands of suppositions, but not a trace of reality,” he told The Guardian.
D’Amico was not consulted for the series.