Spacious and grand as it may appear, yet Casa Casuarina brings back memories of a dreaded day. On July 15, 1997, it was on the steps on this very Miami mansion that Andrew Cunanan assassinated Gianni Versace. Fifteen years long years since one of the most celebrated fashion figures of our times collapsed to death at Casa Casuarina and the place still continues to draw visitors. Tourists and Versace enthusiasts gather across the street from the house only to hear snippets of its past from guides. If you are born rich with millions of bucks to spare on a property, then the good news is, you can do more than just book a suite at Casa Casuarina (it is a boutique hotel now) or simply ogle at it, for the lavish mansion has gone on sale and the price, we hear, comes round to a staggering $125 million. Boasting 10 bedrooms, each artistically decorated to a fantasy theme, frescoes on the ceiling and walls, statues, a large open-air courtyard and an impressive mosaic inlaid 54-foot pool lined in 24-karat gold; Casa Casuarina is truly a work of art.
A breathtaking example of architectural marvel, the 23,400-square-foot Miami mansion packs onto itself ten bedrooms, and eleven bathrooms. Overlooking the ocean, rooms in this luxurious property are decorated within an inch of their lives. The home and its adjacent lot were bought by Gianni Versace in 1992 for under $10 million. A superb specimen of architectural brilliance, it was built way back in the 1930s by architect Alden Freemanbut. The designer reportedly fell in love with the house after spotting it en route. He then went on to spend $33 million more on renovation and extension work. Additions to the property under Versace’s ownership include a south wing occupying a 6,100-square-foot area, a mosaic tiled pool 54 foot long and featuring gold linings, frescoes on the ceiling and walls and a mosaic clad courtyard. Shortly after Versace’s assassination, his sister Donatella went on a selling spree, resulting in Cara Casuarina getting sold for just $20 million. The new owner Peter Loftin, a telecom magnate, used it as a residence for some time, before turning the whole place into a boutique hotel. Named Villa by Barton G, Versace’s home in its “post its sale to Peter Loftin” avatar represented a boutique hotel cum restaurant.
Furniture pieces and items of decoration which had added to the property’ grandeur at some point were sold for rock bottom prices when the Versace family decided to unload the mansion after Gianni’s death. For those who did not know, Gianni, before his death, was probably one of the most influential and wealthy figures in the fashion circuit. Born to dressmaker parents, he began his apprenticeship at a very tender age. Gianni Versace worked as an architect for some time before moving to Milan where he started a career in fashion design. There was no looking back for the young designer since. His designs and patterns drew accolades from people and in no time Gianni Versace had become a name to reckon with. The reasons for his assassination may continue to remain under wraps forever as Gianni’s killer Andrew Cunanan committed suicide shortly after the incident.
As you enter Casa casuarina, the swimming pool is one the very first features to catch your attention here. It might be difficult to count the exact number of mosaic tiles used for decorating the pool. There are so many of them around! Before being bought by Versace, the mansion was little beyond a dilapidated structure. No wonder then, Gianni had to shell out millions getting the whole place transformed. While as discussed already, much of it has been sold by the Versace family to Peter loftin, a few things like gold lining around the pool are not here anymore. However, the building comes with so many attractive delights, that a fraction of their number missing does not make much difference really. If the palm tree murals on the stairwell are exquisite, then the gold-speckled tiles on the kitchen walls deserve to be called mind blowing. And just to let you know, the building houses one of the very few marble bathrooms in the world.
After being transformed into a boutique hotel, Versace’s former home saw a steady influx of celebrity guests. And just to ensure that everybody, right from celebrities down to Versace fans caught snippets of the famous mansion, the authorities would conduct regular guided tours. Gianni Versace is alive in each and every corner of the house, or so it appears as you take the guided tour.
Peter Loftin’s property first went public with the opening of a club few years back. With a $50,000 startup fee, the club had played host to celebrities and stars. As the whole place goes up for sale, it would now be worth watching what the future has in store for this expecptional mansion.