UPDATED 11:06 a.m., Sept. 17: The Nakash family of Jordache jeans fame bought the Versace mansion at auction today, putting in a high bid of $41.5 million and announcing plans to convert the palatial Mediterranean-style estate into a hotel with the Versace name.
Now called Casa Casuarina, the former estate of slain Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace went to the Nakashes in a closed-door auction within its frescoed walls.
“We bought history,” a visibly pleased Joe Nakash, the chairman of Jordache Enterprises, told reporters on the steps of the mansion, dismissing the possibility of a massive renovation or teardown. “We paid $41.5 million for it and it’s going to stay as it is,” he said, adding that he will approach the Versace family about licensing the name.
The villa was originally listed for $125 million but went on the auction block after lenders foreclosed on owner Peter Loftin.
Despite a worldwide marketing campaign, the estate of the late fashion designer Gianni Versace netted only three bidders — Donald Trump, who is redeveloping an 800-acre golf course in Doral; Palm Beach Polo and Country Club owner Glenn Straub; and VM South Beach, owned by the Nakash family of Jordache jeans fame.
The requirements of the auctioneer, Miami-based Fisher Auction Co., were a $3 million deposit placed in escrow and proof of at least $40 million in liquid assets.
VM South Beach is the chief creditor in the foreclosure case. As such, the family took advantage of an option to make a stalking horse bid of $25 million, and were able to bid up to $34 million without putting up any additional cash based on what a court says they are owed.
The house was sold with the furnishings, stain glass and mosaic arranged in the eccentric, baroque style of Versace. Features include a 24-karat gold-lined swimming pool and a guest suite fitted out for once frequent visitor Madonna.
The property was initially listed by the Jills, a Coldwell Banker brokerage headed by Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg. The $125 million asking price was reduced twice before parties agreed to an auction in July after the tenant, Miami restauranteur Barton G. Weiss, successfully sued to break his lease.