The 7 most outrageous revelations from Netflix’s docuseries “Gunther's Millions”

Why is Gunther the Golden Shepherd eating gold-flecked steaks and fronting sex cults ?

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published February 3, 2023 2:52PM (EST)

Maurizio Mian in "Gunther's Millions" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)
Maurizio Mian in "Gunther's Millions" (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

Nothing good could come from a posh pooch and his shady handler.

At least that's what we learn in Netflix's latest docuseries, "Gunther's Millions," which investigates the crazy backstory of the richest dog in the world, Gunther. Gunther enjoys a normal canine lifestyle: he eats gold-flaked steaks for dinner, travels on private jets, owns several grand estates and has his own crew of glitzy spokesmodels. 

Gunther came by such privileges from his family – yes, the classic story of generational doggy wealth. You see, the secret is that Gunther comes from a long line of dogs all called Gunther. Such lavish indulgences began with Gunther's great-grandfather, who was owned by a German countess named Carlotta Liebenstein and her husband, a wealthy businessman of a pharmaceutical company. Carlotta also had a son named Gunther, who later died by suicide at 26.

With no living heirs, the countess left all her fortunes with her son's German Shepherd, named Gunther III. She declared her close friend, Gabriella Gentili, the new caretaker of the dog and manager of Gunther's riches, known as the Gunther Trust. Gabriella then gave her duties to her son Maurizio Mian, who was also a close friend of Carlotta's son. Today, Mian is the sole handler of the current Gunther, aka Gunther VI, and the Gunther Trust.

Gunther's tale – while over-the-top – is just wacky enough to be convincing. But in actuality, it's all just one big lie. Over the course of four episodes, we learn that Gunther is merely a prop in Mian's questionable stunts and sex-fueled "scientific experiments." It's unclear if the real-life Gunther VI ever makes an appearance in the series or if he's played by a decoy Gunther. But his employees and handler do in multiple sit-down interviews.

Here are the 7 most outrageous revelations from the series:

Gunther has his own personal chef
Gunther's MillionsGunther's MillionsGunther's MillionsGunther's Millions (Courtesy of Netflix)

In his lavish Tuscany villa, Gunther has his own personal chef, whose name is Mirko Citti. In the docuseries, Citti makes Gunther a thick and juicy steak that is then cut and topped with flakes of gold.


"We select the meat just for him because he's a dog who gets considerable satisfaction on the culinary level," explains Citti. 


Per Lucy Clarkson, the canine's head of PR, the Countess wanted to make sure that Gunther is treated like a god. In addition to his extravagant dinners, Gunther has 27 total employees working for him.

The ever-growing Gunther dynasty
Gunther's Millions"Gunther's Millions" (Courtesy of Netflix)

Per Piero Salussolia, an attorney of Gunther Trust, a settlement deed lists Gunther VI as a beneficiary and states, "Should he die prematurely the Trustees will replace him as the primary beneficiary by other exemplary species with the same name choosing the one most likely to be the best living symbol of the ideology of 'Gunther Reform' and the '13 Commandments.'"


Simply put, the Countess had been breeding a Gunther bloodline, and when VI is gone, VII will replace him, and so on down the Roman numeral line.


"It's like a royalty, you know?" said Carla Riccitelli, a representative for Gunther Trust. "You have to make sure there's always one or two or three or four coming after you."


Salussolia added that Gunther Trust is part of a bigger business initiative called Gunther Group. The group encompasses Gunther Corporation, which includes several properties and yachts across Italy. Gunther Corporation also owns stakes in additional companies, like ICX Limited, Gunther 2000, Burgundians Limited and other businesses that Salussolia said he's "not comfortable discussing."

Mian' series of bizarre "projects" to honor Carlotta's late son
Gunther's MillionsMembers of the Burgundians in "Gunther's Millions" (Courtesy of Netflix)

In the docuseries, Mian claims that Gunther Trust was created to honor Carlotta's late son's hobbies, which included music, television and entertainment. That's why Mian created a band called Gunther Group and released a record called "Wild Dog." 


"'Wild Dog' itself was a record with important themes," said Mian, who likens it to music by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. The record is purely a scratchy electronic dance tune with a music video that features random shots of the group performing, dogs running amok and people tearing down a fence.


Mian adds that Carlotta's son Gunther once dreamed of traveling to the United States. So, Mian and Gunther VI decided to buy properties in Miami, eyeing Sylvester Stallone's estate and the Versace Mansion. They eventually settled on Madonna's Mansion and bought it for a whopping $7.5 million in cash.


"I have to admit, buying Madonna's mansion was the highest point of the second part of my life," Mian said.


Then came Mian's The Burgundians, a five-person pop group that would sing and dance on behalf of Gunther. Its core members included Lee Dahlberg, a spokesperson/model for Gunther Trust; Dahlberg's girlfriend at the time, Michelle Mainoni; Dahlberg's friend Christopher Lewinski; and Carla, Mian's ex-wife. The group attended press conferences and gained widespread media attention. But, much of what they were doing still remained a mystery. 


The Burgundians' casting requirements are further outlined, albeit bizarrely, in the settlement deed: 


"The Gunther boys are young, good-looking, vigorous, well-built and finely balanced. The two boys should be like Gerald of 'G-Squad' or Steve of 'Worlds Apart.' Possibly with more muscles and blonde hair. Three girls should look like Pamela Anderson, Victoria of Spice Girls, et cetera. Like the cover girls of today's stardom, but with jaunty buttocks. None of them should be fixed elements if not absolutely necessary. The persons of the group should offer a strong idea of beauty and an almost robotic, machine-like empty image."


There is no mention of singing or dancing abilities.

Turns out, The Burgundians was some sort of sex cult
Gunther's Millions"Gunther's Millions" (Courtesy of Netflix)

The Burgundians resided in Gunther's mansion and were monitored by "scientists," who tracked their daily activities. Per Mian, the purpose of these "scientific experiments" was to find the secret to happiness — and further honor his late friend who died by suicide. Data from these experiments were collected by Barry Morse and then given to Mian, who allegedly shared it with other unnamed scientists.


"One of the major components of the Burgundians lifestyle advances is credited to this participation in studies dealing with sexual drive," Gunther Trust legal documents specified. A typical schedule for the Burgundians involved three hours of sports swimming, four hours for show production, two hours for sex, two hours for meals and "execution of experiments" and two hours for "studying and preparation of business related activities." The Burgundians were encouraged to have sex, be naked and participate in lengthy orgies.


"And then, I don't know what happened . . . it just got weird," recalled Mainoni. "It morphed from this glamorous, hedonistic lifestyle to more of, like, we were being watched 24-7." She mentioned that cameras were set up in the mansion's bedrooms without the members' consent.

Mian hired two porn stars to be presidents of his soccer team
Gunther's MillionsValentine Demy in "Gunther's Millions" (Courtesy of Netflix)

Mian and Gunther later purchased Pisa S.C., an Italian football club based in Pisa, Tuscany, and U.S. Città di Pontedera, an Italian association football club based in Pontedera, Tuscany. For the latter, Mian appointed two world-famous Italian porn stars, Ilona Staller (better known by her stage name La Cicciolina) and Valentine Demy, as its presidents.


"The presidents are representations of a collegiality, a philosophy whose core value is the pursuit of happiness," the docuseries said.


Massimo Marini, an Italian journalist, added that Mian's choice to hire porn stars "represents a common thread in Maurizio's life."


"He's always wanted to impress and amaze, to draw attention, even knowing such things would create problems and lead to serious missteps."

Mian's other absurd "experiment": The Magnificent 5
Gunther's MillionsMaurizio Mian and members of I Magnifici 5 in "Gunther's Millions" (Courtesy of Netflix)

Mian's second project was similar to the Burgundians, but it featured Italian celebrities, like TV personality Fabrizio Corona. Each member was given a necklace that had five lights representing a different element – popularity, wealth, sexuality, physicality and spectacularity – for the ideal life. If the members achieved a specific element, their necklace lit up with the corresponding light.


Additionally, the members were told to participate in "planned mating" and procreate a "generation of truly happy people." Basically, they were all part of Mian's plan to breed a new generation of humans that were genetically superior enough to achieve true happiness.


Of course, like all of Mian's shady "science experiments," this one ended in failure. Emanuel Cirinei, a member of The Magnificent 5, recalled that it was "one of the saddest moments of my life, and happiness was very far away.


"It was like a brainwash."

Gunther's backstory was also a lie
Gunther's MillionsKarlotta Leibenstein in "Gunther's Millions" (Courtesy of Netflix)

So, is Gunther VI really worth $400,000,000? The short answer is no.


The long answer is that Gunther's backstory was all invented by Mian so he could avoid paying taxes on his family's fortune. Mian's mother Maria Gabriella Gentili was the pharmaceutical entrepreneur behind the Gentili Institute, a pharmaceutical company that developed a drug that was effective in treating bone diseases. Gentili Institute was subsequently sold to Merck for millions — $400 million to be exact. To avoid paying high Italian taxes, the Mian family transferred the money in a dog's name and later, named the fake countess as the dog's owner.


On top of that, Gunther III actually belonged to Maurizio's girlfriend Antonella, which means Gunther VI is a descendant of Antonella's original dog.

"Gunther's Millions" is currently available for streaming on Netflix. Watch a trailer for it below, via YouTube:


By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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