Gianni Versace, the late, great whale of the 1990s, had an famous flair for opulence, a proclivity for lavishness that was distilled and poured into his Miami Beach mansion, now dubbed Casa Casuarina. Between the time, the legal battle—more on that later—and, well, the $33M the fashion emperor devoted to gussying up his home in custom furniture, fabrics, sculptures, and stained glass, Casa Casuarina remains something of a symbol of Versace's larger-than-life persona. The home itself, a circa-1930 mansion inspired by the colonial design of the Dominican Republic's Alcazar de Colón, the oldest known European manse in the New World, is for now a 10-bedroom hotel, where guests can drop $3,500-plus a night in the high season. Just last year, the estate was pushed onto the market for $125M, though it's now asking a reduced, yet no less eye-popping, $100M. While the majority of Versace's luxe furnishings have long been sold at auction, much of designer's lavishness is indelibly imprinted into the structure itself, what with 24-karat gold-encrusted mosaics, six-person gilded showers, heavily frescoed stairwells, and the famed Medusa emblem snuck into unexpected crannies. Below, 15 ways Versace amped up his mansion, from a peek into the art and furniture his estate sold for millions, to the glitzed-up river rock mosaic in the dining room.
Photos via The Devoted Classicist
1. Versace cultivated millions of dollars in custom and antique Italian furniture. In fact, many of the fabrics and decor the Versace brand sold began as custom projects for his private residence. After his 1997 death, the furniture in his house sold for more than the home's price tag—a hefty sum, considering telecommunications mogul Peter Loftin bought the home for some $19M in 2001.
2. For sister Donatella's room, Versace bought this mahogany pyramid box, which dates back to the early 1800s, from a Paris antiques vendor. After his death, it sold at auction for $21,450.
3. According to the Devoted Classicist, the furniture in one of Versace's sitting rooms, upholstered in quilted cotton velvet "Wild Miami" fabric, sold for $72,800 at auction—the pieces were estimated to take in only $6,000.
4. Each of the mansion's 10 bedrooms has a fantastical theme, including the Aviary Suite, with birds painted on the walls and a sculpted avian atop a chest of drawers.
5. According to Fashion Week Daily, only three windows in the entire house are completely transparent, the rest are Versace-commissioned stained glass.
6. The New York Times says one of the rooms—though, honestly, probably not this one—features $250K in silk and velvet window coverings.
Photos via The Devoted Classicist
7. Much of the mansion's walls and ceilings are covered in "museum-quality" frescoes. Here, particularly frescoed stairwell.
8. For his bedroom, Versace imported a terracotta sculpture of Marcus Aurelius, which sold for $52,500 at auction. (Side note: there's also a fresco of his partner, Antonio D'Amico, in that room.)
Photo via Washington Life
9. Behold Versace's "naughty room," with six stand-up showers.
10. Interestingly, the mansion had only one bathroom, in the La Mer suite, where Madonna preferred to sleep when she visited.
Photo via Front Door
11. Donatella may have sold most of the place's original furniture, but the home's restaurant still serves cocktails in Versace's martini glasses and meals on Versace-designed china.
12. The dining room walls are covered in a river-rock mosaic made from thousands of pebbles.
Photo via The Devoted Classicist
13. Speaking of mosaics, Casa Casuarina's crown jewel, the 54-foot-long pool in the main courtyard, is tiled with over 1M pieces, some of which are gilded in 24-karat gold.
14. The pool and courtyard were part of Versace's south wing extension, which he built on land once occupied by the Rever Hotel, which he bought for $3.7M in 1993; preservationists took legal issue with him demolishing the Art Deco structure, though Versace ultimately won out.
15. Also in the courtyard is a mosaic of the Versace Medusa emblem. This insignia also covers the drains on all of the home's balconies.
· Versace's Casa Casuarina [The Devoted Classicist]
· Storied Versace Mansion a Gastronomic Gem in South Beach [One Sotheby's Realty]
· $100 Million Buys More Than You Think [NYT]
· All Casa Casuarina coverage [Curbed National]
· All Whale Week 2013 posts [Curbed National]