Inside Notorious Developer Thomas Kramer’s Abandoned Star Island House




Thomas Kramer’s former Star Island mansion is as wild as all the rumors say it is. Kramer was a playboy in the most bizarre sense of the word, making some smart real estate moves with his wealthy father-in-law’s money but also getting involved in some wild flops, like a nightclub called ‘Hell’ that fizzled out after a few weeks.

He lived in the castle-like Mediterranean Revival compound at #4 and #5 Star Island Drive in the 1990s, 2000s, and early 2010s, during South Beach’s resurgence. At #4, Kramer kept his office and some accessory buildings, flanked by a large outdoor patio and gardens on the bay. #5 was where the real magic happened, with a grandiose main house and multiple guest apartments clustered around courtyards, breezeways, and motor courts, and a large swimming pool with shell-lined cabana out back.

The house, although unlived in by Kramer since 2013, is still stuffed with his wild and kitschy collections. This is how the Miami Herald describes some of it:

There are two stripper poles on the dining room table, which comfortably seats 14. The king-size bed in the master bedroom is fitted with chrome rings on corner posts for bondage nights.

There’s a collection of sculptures and figurines of creatures that might be as aggressive as Kramer, who’s known for being brash and confrontational. Over in a garage, life-size Alien and Predator statues stand sentry in the back. Behind greenery flanking the corner of a guest house, a large metal velociraptor stands, mouth wide open. On the other side of the courtyard is a rhinoceros sculpture with a picturesque view of downtown Miami’s skyline behind it.

The master bath, next to a tub that looks like a large ancient Roman shrine to a pagan deity, has a clear plastic (perhaps lucite) toilet seat with razor blades and barbed wire embedded within it. On the ceiling of the gym, a woman who was allegedly his personal trainer—naked, muscular, and very big breasted—rides a bull through an epically stormy sky, like a goddess with anger management issues.

Part of his aesthetic includes symbols of death, angels and demons. In the kitchen of one of the guest apartments, black plates have a skull and crossbones above the word “poison.” On the second floor of a garage, there’s a table with a sparkly red goblet and multiple skull-shaped candle holders. A few feet away, a coffin lined with cherry-red cushioning lies on the floor, a purchase he made when he was once dark and depressed.

These are the trophies of a decadent, indulgent, perhaps troubled life lived as a Miami developer of buildings that included the Portofino Tower in South Beach. Kramer is known way more for his lifestyle and controversies though, than anything he successfully built. The shenanigans he got into in Miami Beach were the stuff of surreal legends and notoriety, but in the end, he lost everything.

The house and its contents are being sold by the heirs of his former father-in-law, a wealthy German businessman named Siegfreid Otto who argued that Otto’s money, which Kramer used to fund his Miami Beach developments and lifestyle, was a loan and not a gift. They won an international court case and got everything. The house, which has been unoccupied by Kramer since 2012 (although it does appear to have been maintained since) is still on the market, and an auction to sell the contents was held yesterday.



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