News: Casa Casuarina Sells for 41.5 Million at Auction

Versace Mansion Sells to Owners of the Victor Hotel on Ocean Drive.

It was once the mysterious, lavish residence of late fashion icon Gianni Versace who swept into town and spent $33 million restoring a run-down apartment building from the 30′s built by Alden Freema. Casa Casuarina became a luxurious marvel, filled with Versace’s iconic designs in Italian mosaic, 24-karat gold, hand-painted walls and ceiling frescoes and luxe linens. Miami’s top tier vied for an invite to the elegant soirees that Versace himself presided over. And even then, the Italian genius was approachable as he strolled to the News Cafe for his morning breakfast. It was this,that ended an era of innocence to South Beach as the world watched as Versace’s murder and a serial killers capture played out live to millions world -wide. His sister Donatella, ultimately made the decision to sell Casa Casuarina and it was bought by millionaire playboy Peter Loftin for $19 million. Loftin brought a new era to Casa Casuarina where he lived for years until turning it into a private club where a $50,000 fee allowed it’s members access for dinner or parties. More recently it was home to caterer Barton Weiss, who converted the 10-bedroom, 11-bath home into the Villa by Barton G.

In June of last year, Loftin decided to put the property on the market, listing it foe a whopping $125 million, making it one of the most expensive homes in America at the time. A few months later, it was price-chopped down to $100 million, then $75 million with Weiss filing an emergency injunction, removing his hotel business on the grounds that the owners were hiding the home’s imminent default.

Loftin, then put Casa Casuarina LLC, the company that owns the property, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings on July 1 in a bid to stave off to stave off lien holder VM South Beach’s efforts to appoint a receiver and wrest control of the sale process from him.

VM South Beach LLC, acquired the mortgage on the property in December 2011 from a German bank, WestLB.

And it was VM South Beach LLC who ultimately cast the winning bid of $41.5 million to purchase. The home was auctioned with all the furnishings intact. VM South Beach is owned by the Nakash family of denim manufacturer Jordache Enterprises and Gindi Capital, controlled by the Gindi family of New York.

The auction took place inside the mansion and was conducted by Lamar P. Fisher of Fisher Auction Co. The second highest bid was Donald Trump who bid $41 million. Other bidders included Palm Beach Polo Club owner Glenn Staub.

“I felt it brought a fair market value,’’ said Fisher at a press conference following the auction. “It was exposed worldwide.

To qualify, bidders had to make a $3 million deposit and show proof they have access to $40 million. Once the highest bidder was determined, a 10-percent deposit was tendered, inclusive of the $3 million. Bidding started at $25 million, which was set by VM South Beach LLC, who had put in a stalking-horse bid of the $25 million, setting the minimum for other bidders.

The parties expect to present the winning bid to U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurel M. Isicoff on Wednesday for approval.

During a press conference held right after the auction, Joe Nakash, the winning bidder and current owner of the Victor Hotel next door to Casa Casuarina, told reporters, that he plans to ask for the right to use the Versace name and operate the mansion as a boutique hotel in conjunction with the Victor. “If not, we’ll use the former name or a new name,” he said.

Joe Grant, Loftin’s attorney, told the Miami Herald: “It’s a somber day for him. He’s obviously attached to the property from living there. After all the property’s debts are paid, he’s going to walk away with some money in his pocket.”

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