Hollywood Comes to Delray Beach

The story you are about to here is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. It involves kidnapping, extortion, rich people and big explosions... the usual South Florida stuff.

Really, this ranks as the most bizarre project I have ever worked on.

 

 

A few years back one of my regular clients (an architect) called me to do some illustrations of a house he designed. He told me over the phone that the house was already under construction and his client wanted to put the partially completed residence up for sale. This was a little odd; I'd mostly done projects while in the design stage. I said I would do it and went to his office. I assumed I would be meeting with the architect and the homeowner, but when I got to the office it was the architect, me, and a lawyer on a speaker phone (I think there is a joke in here somewhere). Getting odder...

The lawyer told me the clients were unavailable and the project was to be coordinated thru him. We went over the plans and my assignment was to do about a dozen illustrations of the house, inside and out, to be used for advertising to sell the house. I was going to work from photographs that I would take since the home was partially constructed. I was told when I go to the job site I needed to go thru a security checkpoint. I'm thinking: who are these people, and why the secrets, but I really wasn't overly concerned because it was a large contract and a job's a job. I was hoping it was Elvis and he was alive after all.

I arrived at the property the next morning, passed the security search, urine test, complete fingerprinting and 50 minute psych evaluation. Not really, but the security guard was 5'1'' of major intimidation. The house was tremendous. It was over 33,000 sq. ft., and over 300 ft. long. I had to photograph the exterior in sections because I couldn't get it in one shot. As I walked in the front door I entered the 50ft. x 50ft. living room. The ceiling raised 3 stories-- you could have played basketball in there.

 The first floor included a 14 car (this is not a typo) 2 story garage on the north end, huge kitchen, 2 story library, guest rooms and baths and another 4 car garage to the south. This had to be the biggest house I'd ever been in. There was a basement, which is unusual for Florida because of flooding, except this building was built up from ground level and bermed around the perimeter-- not your granddad's basement. It included two workshops, movie theatre, art gallery and a children's playroom the size of a small restaurant. I spent all morning taking photos.

 

I worked on the job for a couple of weeks, still left in the dark as to the mystery clients. Several weeks went by and I'd forgotten about the whole thing when I came across a newspaper article that caught my eye. A picture of the house was right there on the page in front of me--and the answer to the mystery.

 The owners of the house were a young couple who had inherited a large fortune from an old women who was involved with a large blue chip corporation (no names, but you'll see a hint in one of the pictures). This couple along with their baby where staying in a condo on the Intracoastal Waterway near the job site when a masked man broke in one night, tied the couple up, and threatened to come back and kidnap their child if they didn't make arrangements to give him money (the paper didn't mention how much). The perp left them tied up and escaped by swimming across the 100 ft. canal,  disappearing into the darkness. This is a sign of a desperate man because that water is full of all kinds of nasty stuff. The next day the couple, frightened out of their wits, went into hiding. This is when I was called in on the project...

Hollywood Comes To Delray Beach Part Two

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