SELLER: The House of Versace
BUYER: (reported to be) Arkady Novikov
LOCATION: Lake Como, Italy
YOUR MAMAS UPDATE (Later Same Day): Lo and behold, the good people at The Times put a whole mess of luscious and luridly lovely photos of the Villa Fontanelle on their website and and they show a house just as splendid and showy as Your Mama had hoped and imagined. Click here and then click on the gallery to view a few more snaps.
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: It has been long rumored to be quietly on the market, and in early March (2008), fashion bible Women's Wear Daily reported that in an effort to trim the financial fat, the powers that be at the House of Versace were finally selling deceased fashion icon Gianni Versace's beloved Villa Fontanelle in Maltrasio, an itty bitty village on the shores of northern Italy's ritzy and glitzy Lake Como. According to WWD, the flamboyant fashion house was preparing to sell the large lake front house to Sunland Group, an Australian entity who happens to be Versace's bizness partner in the Palazzo Versace hotel project.
However, thanks to our jet-setting tipster with a distinguished Greek surname, Your Mama has learned that a more recent March 16th report in The Times reveals that the Versace villa is actually in the process of being purchased by a 46 year old ruble rich Russian restaurateur named Arkady Novikov, a man who is often referred to as the "Blini Baron." Sources close to the transaction have whispered to the good people at The Times that the sale price is a hefty, but not inconceivable for Lake Como, £26,000,000. That's $52,371,020, 1,245,555,680 RUR, and €33,985,151 for all the international children.
According to The Times, the sale price is reported to be, "at least £3,000,000 more than the asking price set by the Versace company last summer." The extra bit of money is reportedly an effort by the Blini Baron to keep the house off the market while he gets his finances in order to make the purchase official. Of course, Your Mama imagines all these newly rich Russians simply whip out a few gigantic Versace valises filled with cash money when they want to purchase high-priced real estate, but apparently these things actually go down in much more ordinary and customary ways with bank transfers and check writing.
It has widely been reported that Villa Fontanelle was Gianni Versace's favorite residence, and children, the maverick Italian designer had several decadent domiciles to choose from including the lavish family apartments in Milan, a tremendous townhouse in New York City where the entire Versace clan bunked together, and of course the sumptuous Casa Casuarina in sexy South Beach where the famed designer was so rudely and crudely gunned down by that crazed and creepy serial killer Andrew Cunanan in July of 1997.
The Versace villa, built in the first half of the 19th century by an eccentric Englishman, was a shambles when Mister Versace purchased the property in 1977 and required a total rehabilitation. Unfortunately for the all the nosy and opinionated children, Your Mama was unable to locate any interior photos of Villa Fontanelle online, so we've put our research nut B.S. Beaverman on the job to see what miracles she can dig up. Although interior pictures are few, there are several descriptions of the villa that indicate Mister Versace spent much time and many millions personally doing up the interiors in a manner consistent with the house's neo-classic architectural style.
The four story villa is most often described with words like lavish, grandiose, and imperial and Villa Fontanelle is unquestionably a dignified and magnificent piece of architecture. Your Mama would undoubtedly keel over in faint from the beauty of it all if we were ever invited to step inside its carved wood doors. However, the vast villa is also reportedly and not surprisingly filled with a multitude of nood marble statues of Greek deities including, "two enormous stone men in the main bedroom." Therefore Your Mama would also like to add "gay, gay, GAY!" to the description of the interior spaces. Clearly Mister Versace possessed a ticker of much greater fortitude than Your Mama, because we surely would go out with a heart attack if we ever rolled over in the middle of the night and caught a shadowy glimpse of two enormous stone men standing across the room next to the Empire style blue satin armchairs.
In addition to the many marble busts and the untold number of nekkid mens statuary that people the interior spaces, the house is also said to feature a massive and spectacular Russian crystal chandelier that once hung in a palace in St. Petersburg, truckloads of Empire era furniture, lots of urns sitting around and plaster medallions depicting Roman emperors stuck to the walls, bathrooms bathed in red marble, original paintings from the late 1700s, insanely intricate plaster detailing, and hundreds of neoclassical objets d'art. Your Mama just knows in our gut that it's all just as flashy, brassy and fab-u-lous as the slinky, sexy and sometimes scandalous dresses Mister Versace designed.
Although some of the Villa Fontanelle's furnishings were auctioned in 2005, The Times reports there are whispers and rumors that the additional furniture and art are scheduled to be auctioned later this year by Sotheby's Milan.
With an extravagantly rich new owner, Villa Fontanelle will most assuredly see continued luxury, over the top glamour, and expensively dressed ladees strolling the opulent and ornate rooms and grounds. But gone are the villa's salad days when single name celebs like Madonna, Diana, Elton and JLo–who honeymooned at the villa with her first (or was it her third?) husband–relaxed on the shores of Lake Como wrapped in that special brand of glammed up splendor that Mister Gianni Versace and his sister, the dee-voon and dee-lishisly strange Donatella, will forever be known.
The Versace clan may be leaving their long time Lake Como crib, but the area will surely continue to attract rich, powerful and famous folk. Some of it's current crop of gitterati villa owners include Hollywood heart throbber George Clooney (who reportedly owns two, including the Villa Margharita), Virgin mega-mogul Richard Branson, rock royals Sting and Trudy Styler, and Ryanair head honcho Michael O'Leary. Your Mama also predicts the gorgeous, but polluted waters of Lake Como will also soon see more exuberantly rich Russians with almost immeasurable amounts of money to piss away on posh and palatial real estate buying up more and more of luxurious lake side villas at ever increasing prices.