The Versace Mansion: Everything You Need To Know – Miami is a symbol of wonderful beaches and lots of fun, arts and culture. But there is one architectural wonder South Beach is best known for: Casa Casuarina, also known as the Versace Mansion.
The home was made famous by fashion designer Gianni Versace when he purchased the property in 1992, which he discovered by chance during a quick visit to Miami to visit his sister, Donatella, on his way to Cuba.
According to Casa Casuarina‘s history of the property, it was originally built by Alden Freeman, heir to Standard Oil Trust, the Rockefeller’s company. Freeman retired at the age of 27 to travel and made his way to Florida and the Dominican Republic, where he fell in love with the Alcazar De Colon in Santo Domingo, built by Christopher Columbus’ son, Diego.
When he returned to Miami, Freeman built Casa Casuarina as a homage to the Alcazar De Colon. The property was divided into apartments, aimed at housing a community of artists and bohemians Freeman dreamed of living amongst. He lived on the top floor until his death in 1937, after which the home was purchased by Jacque Amsterdam, who renamed the complex “Amsterdam Palace.”
Amsterdam was responsible for installing an elevator and moving the statue of Kneeling Aphrodite on the front terrace. Coincidentally, it was that Grecian statue which caught the eye of Gianni Versace on that first walk through South Beach with Donatella.
The apartment complex had a number of owners until Versace laid eyes on it in 1992 and transformed it into one of the country’s grandest mansions. Along with the Casa Casuarina, Versace also purchased Hotel Revere on the lot next door for $3.7 million. Hotel Revere later became the site of Versace’s garden, epic swimming pool, and the home’s south wing.
Along with the initial costs of purchase, Versace invested an additional $32 million into renovations over the course of three years. He turned what was once a 24-apartment complex into a grand estate the world would come to know as the Versace Mansion, complete with 10 suites and an additional two suites in the south wing.
Versace removed the elevator, replaced the fountain, reconstructed the observatory, and had plans to turn the vacant lot to the north of the property into a second garden before his death in 1997.
After Versace’s murder, the house sat empty for three years before Donatella sold it. After having two different owners, the mansion was purchased at auction for $41.5 million and is now operated by Victor Hotels Management as The Villa Casa Casuarina.
Source: Harper’s Bazaar
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