Anyone who ever passes through Ocean Drive will have a glimpse of the majestic and renowned Versace Mansion of South Beach, Miami. Perhaps, you might have seen it, but you were not sure that it was – after all – the famed Versace mansion. It is easily spotted among cafes, restaurants and hotels as a huge mansion that has an observatory on its roof on Ocean Drive.
If you are still not sure which is it, it is the only huge mansion on Ocean Drive with plenty of people at its gate snapping photos – because it is the third most photographed house in all of America, right behind the White House and Graceland.
Before we bite right into the juice, let’s take a moment to take some history lessons on the Versace mansion. Well, before you get upset because you don’t like learning history – this is different – because it is actually interesting. Read on!
Brief Bio of Gianni Versace
Gianni Versace was born on the 2nd of December 1946, and as you might already know – he is a world class Italian fashion designer, and the person responsible for the establishment of the Gianni Versace international fashion house. Gianni’s partner, Antonio D’Amico were both openly admitted gays, and they were all over the international party scene. He was very well known, and among his friends were the likes of Elton John, Madonna, Lady Diana, and plenty of people who are icons today.
Gianni Versace’s tragic death story
Gianni Versace always took a morning walk down the News Café on Ocean Drive to have his breakfast, it was considered to be his morning ritual. It was in 1997, and Gianni was 50 years old – still the top of the fashion world. Unfortunately, when Gianni returned home, he was greeted by a bullet shot by Andrew Cunanan, a psychotic serial killer who had stalked Gianni for over a year. Cunanan ran and hideout at a nearby boat near the docks. Police surrounded him, and it was a dark day in Miami. As a final resort to escape, Cunanan pulled the trigger on himself, committing suicide.
Casa Casuarina – A short history of the Versace Mansion
The Versace Mansion, also known affectionately as Casa Casuarina, was built and designed by renowned philanthropist and architect, Alden Freeman in 1930. It was inspired by another home in Santa Domingo, which is the oldest existing house called the Alcazar de Colon in the western hemisphere. The Alcazar de Colon was the house of the son of world explorer Christopher Columbus, and it was built in 1510. In fact, the Casa Casuarina contains a piece of Alcazar de Colon, as one of its cornerstones uses an original brick from the Alcazar de Colon itself.
How did Casa Casuarina became the Versace Mansion
During a trip to Miami in 1993, Gianni Versace saw the Casa Casuarina for the very first time. Although it looked diminished, Versace fell in love with it, and he purchased the unmaintained mansion for the price tag of 3 million dollars.
Gianni put in another 33 million to refurbish and renovate the broken down home.
That is a total of 36 million Gianni Versace invested into the house. Every single one of its features were restored, embellished and expended. There are also certain parts of the Casa Casuarina he demolished to make space to build the pool, garden and South wing area. Finally, it was done, and the world laid eyes as one of the greatest looking mansion in Miami, with its triumphant Italian touch. He exquisitely restored, expanded and embellished all its features.
What happened to the house after Versace’s Death
Gianni Versace had a huge fortune to be divided after his unfortunate death. It took quite a long time for it to be settled. Allegra Versace, his niece, was left with half a billion dollars, and she was only 11 years olf back then. The house fell into Gianni’s sister, Donatella Versace, who continues to run the fashion brand. In the year 2000 however, Peter Loftin, an Executive from a telecom company bought over the house for 20 million dollars. It was however, unfurnished. Donatella sold the furniture separately, and it all came to worth 90 million.
Loftin had always dreamed of owning the Casa Casuarina when he first saw Gianni restored it. Being a huge fan of it, Loftin did not make any structural changes, but instead he made restorations to preserve the history and architecture of the house – as well as bring new vibrant life to the house and furnished it inspired by Versace’s style.
What has become of Casa Casuarina now?
Casa Casuarina is now simple a luxury hotel – loosing the Versace’s glamour epocal – however some bedrooms are restricted access from guests. Certain areas are off limits as well. It is certainly a beautiful sight to see even if, the new management, is a little scorbutic.
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