Gunthers Millions

Gunther’s Millions, the new four-hour Netflix docuseries purportedly about a dog who inherits a half-million dollar fortune, eventually tells the truth about Gunther and the supposed manager of his fortune, Maurizio Mian. But if you don’t want to spend nearly three hours getting there, we’ll cut to the chase: No, a German Shepherd did not really inherit millions from a German countess.

And no, she did not insist that the money be handed down to his heirs.

Netflix’s description for Gunther’s Millions — “A dog with a trust fund isn’t the strangest part of this story. Gunther’s eccentric handler also lived a luxe life — with a cult-like entourage” — hints that not everything is at it seems in the docuseries, the first episode of which depicts Gunther flying on a private plane, relaxing on a yacht, and dining on steak.

If you bail out on the first episode, unwilling to commit three hours of your life to a story that also involves Gunther’s unwitting campaign to become a pop star via a group of human performers called The Burgundians, you might come away thinking Gunther really was a very wealthy dog.

You might also believe that a small numbers of humans, sniffing out his wealth, formed a quasi cult around him, as we often do with wealthy people.

Your false impression would be fueled by miscues in Gunther’s Millions, like chryons that refer to Mian simply as “Gunther’s Caretaker.” Or by the title of the series, which is, again, Gunther’s Millions.

But no. In fact the docuseries, at least at the start, engages in the same sort of misleading silliness that got many to believe a dog had become the owner of Madonna’s former home.

The Truth About Gunther

After it was initially among countless news organizations tricked by a Gunther hoax, The Associated Press dug into the backstory of Gunther in a 2021 story in which the news organization admirably owned up to its mistake.

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“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,” The AP reported.

The news organization added that while the magazine is indeed owned by an organization called The Gunther-Corp, “the dog’s role appears to be little more than a joke that’s carried on for decades.” It added that there was no evidence a German countess actually existed.

Did Gunther Really Own Madonna’s Mansion?

Gunther Corp., yes. Gunther the dog, no.

Miami-Dade County property records shows that the home was sold for $29 million by Gunther Corp. to a new (human) buyer in early 2022. The Gunther Group had purchased the home from Madonna Ciccone, aka Madonna, for $7.5 million in 2000.

A promotional video by the real estate team The Assouline Team, privately listed on Youtube and posted for your enjoyment below, says that the property was “formerly owned by Madonna and inherited by Gunther, the beloved German Shepherd of a Countess,” the latter part of which is not exactly true, as the AP explained above.

How Accurate Is Gunther’s Millions?

The docuseries eventually explains that the entire Gunther the millionaire dog story was created by Maurizio Mian, scion of an Italian pharmaceutical company that was purchased by Merck. As Town and Country explains here, Mian told an Italian newspaper in 1995 that the dog “was just an invention to publicize the philosophy” of his foundation.

That’s cool, but should you have to spend four hours of your life watching a misleading documentary to find out that the central hook of the documentary — a dog inherited millions — is just pretend? We don’t think so.

This isn’t to say that Gunther’s Millions is a total waste of your time. It’s entertaining to see how easy it is to fool deadline-driven news organizations that conclude that certain stories are too good to check, making them half-witting conspirators in silly stories planted as publicity stunts.

But the docuseries perhaps have that point from the start, without dragging us along for four hours.

Main image: Gunther and his human hangers-on.