Story about dog ‘selling’ mansion part of long-running tale

Nov 16, 2021, 7:01 PM | Updated: Nov 23, 2021, 5:59 pm
German Shepherd Gunther VI sits by the pool at a house formally owned by pop star Madonna, Monday, ...

German Shepherd Gunther VI sits by the pool at a house formally owned by pop star Madonna, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Miami. Gunther VI inherited his vast fortune, including the 9-bedroom waterfront home once owned by the Material Girl from his grandfather Gunther IV. The estate, purchased 20 years ago from the pop star, was listed for sale Wednesday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Editor’s note: AP is replacing the story about the sale of a Miami mansion once owned by Madonna with this piece, which looks at how the tale of a German shepherd and a trust has long been used as a publicity stunt to dupe reporters. The AP fell for parts of the stunt and is removing the erroneous story.

For more than 20 years, a line of German shepherds named Gunther has been presented in news stories as the wealthy beneficiaries of a German countess.

The story appears to be a ruse created by Maurizio Mian, the scion of an Italian pharmaceutical company, who has used the tale of the globe-trotting canine to promote real estate sales and other projects.

The Associated Press reported last week that a dog, Gunther VI, was selling a Miami mansion that it had purchased from Madonna for $7.5 million in 2000 for $31.75 million. The story cited claims from Gunther’s “handler” that the dog was from a long line of dogs bequeathed the fortune of a German countess.

While the mansion is in fact owned and being sold by the Gunther Corp., according to Miami-Dade County property records, the dog’s role appears to be little more than a joke that’s carried on for decades.

And there is no evidence of a German countess.

The AP reported on the story after receiving a press release from publicists representing the real estate agents who had the listing.

“The AP published a story that did not meet our standards and should not have been published. We did not do our due diligence in the reporting process. We have corrected the story, and we apologize,” AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton said in a statement.

Mian told an Italian newspaper in 1995 that the countess “was just an invention to publicize the philosophy” of his foundation. Mian at other points has claimed his confessions about the countess are the real hoax and the dog stories are, in fact real.

Mian’s own money appears to have come from his family’s Italian pharmaceutical business. Istituto Gentili, which developed a treatment for the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis with the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Merck, was purchased by Merck in 1997.

An Italian cellphone number listed for Mian was not answered Tuesday.

Responding to questions from the AP Tuesday about the veracity of the story, Monica Tirado, director of the Gunther Group, said that Carla Riccitelli, who described herself to the AP as Gunther’s handler, is Mian’s “ex-partner.”

Tirado said that the company couldn’t answer further questions, including about the story of the German countess, because “there is an exclusive contract with a Netflix production.” A request for comment with Netflix to get details about any production was not returned.

This is just the latest in a string of tales about Gunther told by Mian.

In 1999, The Miami Herald reported that Gunther IV was trying to purchase a mansion from actor Sylvester Stallone. The next day, the Herald reported that it was just a publicity stunt.

“If you want to write it’s a joke, you can write that,” Mian told the Herald. “I won’t do anything.”

In Mian’s tale of the dogs, the Gunthers are supposedly supported by a multi-million dollar trust set up by German countess Karlotta Liebenstein when she died in 1992 to care for her dog, Gunther III, and his progeny. The AP has found no evidence that Liebenstein existed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse ...
Associated Press

Case against Jussie Smollett focuses on how ‘hoax’ unraveled

CHICAGO (AP) — Prosecutors’ case against Jussie Smollett has focused on how Chicago police say they determined that what they initially believed was a horrific hate crime was actually a fake assault staged by the ex-“Empire” actor with help from two brothers. Testimony will continue Wednesday in the trial, which is expected to last about […]
21 hours ago
In this screen grab from video, former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter sits at the defens...
Associated Press

4 jurors seated for Kim Potter trial, many more needed

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors and defense attorneys for the suburban Minneapolis police officer charged in Daunte Wright’s death are to resume jury selection Wednesday after seating four the first day. Kim Potter, 49, sat quietly Tuesday as attorneys and Judge Regina Chu probed potential jurors’ for what they knew about the case and about their […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sp...
Associated Press

Fauci says COVID diverted resources from fighting AIDS

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said Tuesday the COVID-19 pandemic has diverted scientific and financial resources from the fight against AIDS, seriously impeding global efforts to achieve the U.N. goal of ending AIDS by 2030. Fauci told the U.N. General Assembly that tackling COVID-19 has also disrupted […]
21 hours ago
FILE - This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., on Saturday, Oct. 23, 202...
Associated Press

Investigators track ammunition in fatal film set shooting

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities pursued new leads Tuesday on possible sources of live ammunition involved in actor Alec Baldwin’s fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of a western movie, as they searched the premises of an Albuquerque-based firearms and ammunition supplier. The search took place after a provider of […]
21 hours ago
Flowers are left in memory of Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton's first Black artistic director, at a chu...
Associated Press

Louis Vuitton show pays tribute to designer Virgil Abloh

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Louis Vuitton’s first ever U.S. fashion show turned into a somber yet whimsical tribute to groundbreaking designer Virgil Abloh days after his death. The Miami menswear event, an unofficial kickoff to the prestigious Art Basel fair, had been in the works for months. Guests were ferried by yachts to the […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Passengers wearing face masks and face shields amid the coronavirus pandemic arrive at the I...
Associated Press

South Korea’s daily virus jump exceeds 5,000 for first time

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s daily jump in coronavirus infections exceeded 5,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as a delta-driven surge also pushed hospitalizations and deaths to record highs. With the spread threatening to overwhelm hospital capacities, health experts have called for officials to reimpose stricter social distancing […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Story about dog ‘selling’ mansion part of long-running tale