February 22, 2012

A peek inside Gianni Versace’s Miami mansion

When fashion guru Gianni Versace was gunned down on the front steps of his home in South Beach, Miami in 1997, frock wearing females the world over reeled on their high heels. Not to mention the shock to the rest of us who’ve never seen a Versace gown, let alone worn one. South Beach? Isn’t that the place of the botoxed and beautiful?

Versace Mansion

The pool inlaid with gold tiles

I was in Miami and retraced the flamboyant designer’s steps that fateful morning as he left his home with his pooch to go and get a coffee from News Cafe, about 2 blocks from his house. I sat at a table in the cafe under the leafy trees and thought how awful that a lone and clearly crazed gunman was skulking the streets that day. It’s not the sort of thing you expect in South Beach. This art deco end of the strip is full of muscly men, motorbikes and hot chicks wearing not very much. Tourists wear bata bullets and locals teeter on mile high heels.

Gianni poodled home that morning after having read the Italian newspapers that News Cafe is famous for and was shot and died on his front steps. Truly awful.

Versace Mansion

Wait behind the line for a Mansion Tour

He left half of his estate to his then 11-year old nice Allegra, Donatella’s daughter, and split the remainder between his brother and Donatella. Eventually the property was sold to a telecommunications tycoon from New York and in 2009 Casa Casaurina was opened as a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar.

I went and had a tour through Casa Casuarina and checked out the rooms – the one he designed for Madonna (with a gold bathtub) and another that Elton John helped him design for himself. Allegra’s room with handpainted birds on the walls. The loo with a golden seat. The swimming pool with gold tiles inlaid into the floor. The circular show room with 4 shower heads that I’m sure could tell us a few stories….

Oh and you wanna hear something funny? Donatella offered the furnishings to the new buyer for an extra $2 mil. He turned her down and went out and bought new Versace branded product instead. Donatella, meanwhile, sold the stuff for $19 mil. Funny indeed.

Versace Mansion

This cafe inside is open to the public

Versace Mansion

Upstairs balcony overlooking the pool

Versace Mansion

The sumptuous velvet lounge off the pool area

Versace Mansion

The communal showers beside the pool

Versace Mansion

Allegra’s handpainted bedroom wall

Versace Mansion

Elton John helped design this room for when he came to stay

Versace Mansion

Book a table for lunch beside the pool

Versace Mansion

Private dining room available to the public. The mosaic wall was done by an Italian artist and redone when Gianni threw a hissy.

Versace Mansion

Our guide explains this tapestry was found in the basement. It’s priceless!

Versace Mansion

The golden toilet seat. Donatella kept one for herself and the other remains here.

If you want to read my full story of noseying through Gianni Versace’s mansion, click here to read: Miami Nice on the NZ Herald’s website.

About Megan Singleton


Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this blog as well as on radio every week and a few newspapers and mags from time to time. I set off on this travel blog malarkey 17 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!)I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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