Where is Allegra Versace now? How she inherited her murdered uncle Gianni's multi-million …
After Gianni Versace was gunned down outside his house some of the world’s most famous faces gathered to mourn him.
His memorial service was a who’s who of the fashion and music world with Princess Diana, Elton John, Sting and Giorgio Armani rubbing shoulders inside Milan’s Cathedral with Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni and Karl Lagerfeld.
But amid all the public outpouring of grief the image of an 11-year-old girl dressed in black lace and dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief stood out.
Her name was Allegra Versace and she was the tragic designer’s favourite relation and – thanks to his will – the heir to his fashion empire.
However, the death and grief and wealth it brought was the curse of the very rich, a sumptuous cage, but a cage nonetheless.
The Versaces lived their lives of relentless luxury in palazzi of exquisite good taste, privileged, talented – but often deeply miserable.
And as an innocent child Allegra was not immune.
While her mother Donatella battled a long addiction to cocaine and struggled through painful divorce from Allegra’s model father Paul Beck her daughter has had to face the challenges of suffering from anorexia.
In 2012 Donatella confirmed in a statement: “Our daughter, Allegra, has been battling anorexia, a very serious disease, for many years.
“She is receiving the best medical care to help overcome this illness and is responding well. As parents, we are doing our best to protect our daughter.
“We want everyone to know we appreciate their concern for Allegra, and we ask that her privacy be respected at this time.”
With a family name like Versace and the added interest of inheriting 50 per cent of the Versace empire when she turned 18 Allegra was always going to struggle to keep a low profile.
Growing up behind the gold-leaf gates of a Milan mansion, where even her bed sheets and coffee cups were adorned with the Medusa head of the Versace company, Allegra has lived a sad and often lonely existence.
Now 31 she is a virtual recluse who shuns the limelight and is rarely pictured except at fashion events.
She’s been pictured out jogging – her limbs painfully thin – and at the odd fashion party with the likes of Lady GaGa and Kate Moss.
She is believed to have a job at Versace, but is thought to only spend a small amount of time at the company offices each month.
Her mother’s announcement that she was suffering from anorexia was the latest in a long line of dramas to dog the family.
Her uncle’s death and its impact
The shocking death of her uncle, her mother’s drug addiction, huge company debts and now her own desperate illness have threatened to tear the family to pieces.
Life for the Versaces had seemed as beautifully luxurious as the clothes they put on the catwalks.
But their world became bleaker when company founder and genius designer Gianni, 50, was shot dead on the steps of his Miami home in 1997.
Allegra, then only 11, had been watching TV with her six-year-old brother Daniel when the news flashed on the screen.
Just minutes earlier, Gianni had phoned Donatella in Italy and said: “I’m bored. Send me the children.” He then popped out to buy a newspaper.
Serial killer Andrew Cunanan shot him twice through the head.
A life turned upside down
He saw Gianni as a gay icon, claimed he’d had a sexual relationship with him and stalked him days before the killing.
Cunanan, 27, committed suicide before he could be arrested.
On that day Allegra’s life was turned upside down.
She adored Gianni, who called her ‘his princess’ and boasted that she was the future of his empire. She was inconsolable.
Discovering he had left her half of his fortune – far more than her mother or uncle Santo who were deeply involved in the business – was a shock. Her brother David was left Gianni’s art collection.
From then on Allegra was locked in a security limbo.
Instead of flying around the world with her adored uncle and sharing dinners with him at the Paris Ritz, Allegra was strictly forbidden from setting foot outside her home unless accompanied by a posse of bodyguards.
She loathed it and allegedly said to friends at school: “How could Gianni have done this to me?”
Simple childish freedoms, like riding her bike or playing on the beach outside her Lake Como home, were banned.
She was driven to school in a bullet-proof car.
The family homes resembled luxurious prisons, and the youngster was bereft at the loss of the uncle she adored and the happy and free life she missed.
Dreams beyond fashion
To make matters worse, her mother and father, former Versace model Paul Beck, split soon after Gianni’s death.
When the rug of family security had been pulled from under the little girl’s feet, it mattered little that she moved in charmed circles.
She grew up calling Sir Elton John “Uncle”, took catwalk lessons from Naomi Campbell and was treated as a surrogate little sister by Stella McCartney.
But by the end of 2003, the fashion empire was in debts of £70m and was said to be days away from bankruptcy.
But Allegra had her own dreams which did not embrace the world of fashion.
After leaving school in Milan, she flew to New York to study English and drama and begged her mother to give her until the age of 24 to try to succeed at acting.
In one of the rare interviews, she hinted at her inner sadness. She said: “What I like about acting is that you can be a different person every day.”
The lavish celebrations of Allegra’s 18th birthday in May 2004 should have been the happiest day of her life.
But it was then that Elton John confronted her mother Donatella about her cocaine habit and persuaded her to go into rehab.
Allegra was understandably devastated to discover that the woman she had described as “fearless”, was now in a detox clinic.
Donatella has completely recovered now – as have the Versace fortunes.
Why is she not in the American Crime Story series?
As a young adult, Allegra — a dual citizen of Italy and the US — moved to the States to attend Brown University and, later, UCLA, studying acting, French and art history.
“I studied theatre and it pleased me greatly to play parts in little independent films that no one went to see,” she told La Repubblica in 2011. “Still, anywhere I went, I was Versace. I couldn’t escape, and it did me harm.”
Donatella would visit Los Angeles every month and the mother-daughter duo would hide themselves away themselves in a cottage at the Beverly Hills Hotel, listening to Madonna records and going out only to shop at Hollywood’s Amoeba record store and vintage boutiques, or for sushi at the pricey Matsuhisa.
Allegra told Harper’s Bazaar in 2007 that she spent weekends riding her bike on Venice Boulevard.
“Hollywood is not really my world,” she told the magazine. “I don’t tell many people my last name. I go by Beck more than Versace.”
She does not feature in the drama The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
A scene was shot featuring her but then it was taken out apparently out of respect for the Versace family.
Allegra has said recently that she worked anonymously for a time with a non-Italian designer, helping him organise fashion shows and advertising.
“The great part about this work is that I am no one,” she said. “I think you can get used to everything, if you feel free, if you are yourself and not what others want you to be, if you don’t see a photographer around every corner, if you do not bury yourself in cruel gossip that does so much harm …”
But such is the fascination in the Versace name that Allegra may never find the peace she clearly craves.
Source: Lady Gaga