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Gunther's Millions Review: Flashy Netflix Docuseries About World's Richest Dog Could Be the Next Tiger King

It's manipulative, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to stop watching

Jordan Hoffman
Gunther's Millions

Gunther's Millions


None of this is the dog's fault.

Gunther's Millions is the latest "And then you won't believe what happened next!" Netflix true crime documentary series that digs up an interesting (or, at least, unusual) story, then drags it out to absurd lengths, teasing you with manipulative edits and music cues, mostly in an effort to keep the algorithm churning instead of telling a compelling story. It's an annoying four-part series that'll have you shouting, "Oh, come on already!" from the couch, but the fact of the matter is once you start it you'll probably finish. This is the television equivalent of opening a bag of Wise Honey BBQ chips (a particular fave of mine) for "just a nibble," then discovering you've gobbled the entire thing and have horrendous indigestion. 

The director and co-producer, Aurelien Leturgie and Emilie Dumay, are not exactly coming from the world of elite cinema. Prior credits include Hollywood Girls 2, Shark Week, and field segments of The Amazing Race. And yet! It's entirely possible that Netflix has the next Tiger King-style hit on their hand, because there is an undeniable, water-cooler-ready hook here. Gunther's Millions starts with the world's richest dog, spirals into a weird Italo-Floridian sex cult, then drops a bomb on the audience with a record scratch-worthy twist.


Gunther's Millions


  • The story is undeniably wild
  • Gunther is a good dog


  • The storytelling is manipulative
  • It withholds a lot of information to keep you watching
  • It's all over the place stylistically

Again, no one can blame this on the dog, an adorable purebred German Shepherd named Gunther VI, the direct descendent of Gunther IV, the lucky canine that "inherited" hundreds of millions of dollars. As we see images of him eating finely carved steak from a golden doggie dish while Mozart's "Queen of the Night" aria plays, the show gets into what it really means when we say, "That is the world's richest animal, and there he is wearing jewelry on his yacht."

A German countess, involved in the pharmaceutical industry, died wealthy and with no heirs. Indeed, her one son, Gunther (often called "Gunther, the boy") died by suicide in his 20s, a longtime sufferer of acute depression. But she loved and cared for her dog, also named Gunther, and when she died she entrusted her friend, an Italian woman named Maria Gabriella Gentili (also in the pharmaceutical industry) to look after the pooch. Indeed, they set up a trust fund, which then created a business organization run by Gentili's son, Maurizio Mian. It was his job to keep the canine in happy and "surrounded by the things that inspire him," which meant mansions, swimming pools, beautiful young men and women in bathing suits, and pop music. 

The Gunther Corporation, was primed to make a killing in other investments like soccer teams, real estate, dog breeding, and "additional businesses" (possibly pornography, but this is kept vague), so long as they stuck to the primary goal of the agreement — keeping Gunther (and his descendants) happy. This meant keeping a staff of yes men and yes women with weird Kato Kaelin (or Derol from Glass Onion)-like vibes on the payroll. One agreeable gent has been "Gunther's spokesman" for 20-something years, and his principal function seems, mainly, to maintain a tan. Nice work if you can get it. 

Over time, though, there was mission creep: The real goal was to promote concepts of mental health and search for the key to objective joy, as was the wish of Gunther, the boy. This meant, once the Italian group moved into a Miami compound (once owned by Madonna!), that a rotating cast of fit, young, beautiful wannabe performers would move in and "rehearse." Rehearse for what, exactly, is unclear, but it's all on videotape, and the kids seem to be having fun, especially when the dog wanders into frame.

They were also encouraged (but not forced) to have lots and lots of sex. None of the folks looking back on these years have any complaints about this, precisely, but they do share that they were not aware, at first, that they were being watched.

Gunther's Millions

Gunther's Millions


So was Maurizio Mian really just using his dog-money for his strange sexual perversions? This seems obvious. But to this day he keeps to his story that he was "doing research" for the betterment of mankind. He even had "scientists" (in white coats, even!) taking notes and crunching numbers, like it was some grand reverse Stanford Prison Experiment. He wanted to somehow capture contentment and recreate it, inspiring procreation. But, and he basically comes out and says this (with a thick Italian accent), not in a Nazi way! It's all very weird.

And, as it's told here, also extremely manipulative. The filmmakers hold back on a lot of key information (much of which I have not shared here). Just how and when a documentary should reveal twists in a story is tricky. Like the recent success Three Identical Strangers, this is a good example of a movie that knows something important the whole time, then springs it on the audience as an "aha!" for a story beat. Depending on your point of view, this either makes for good viewing or feels like a cheat. (I'm in the latter camp. Instead of rolling up a newspaper and saying "bad dog!" I'll do the same but say "bad doc!") Another recent film, Tickled, similarly contains a big-ass twist, but the entire thing is told in the first person. The director/auteur is having things happen to him, so the surprises come to us as within the narrative, because there is this authorial point of view. There's a difference. 

This production has none of these aims. Stylistically it is all over the place — lots of unnecessary drone shots and canned dramatic music on the soundtrack. Every episode builds up with a "don't touch that dial" montage, similar to what you'd see on something like Wife Swap. It does, however, have a very cute dog, on palatial grounds, usually surrounded by buff dudes and foxy gals in bikinis. It's hard to complain about that too much. 

Premieres: Wednesday, Feb. 1 on Netflix
Who's in it: Gunther
Who's behind it: Aurelien Leturgie and Emilie Dumay (creators)
For fans of: Dogs, scandals, scams, and money
How many episodes we watched: 4 of 4