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Thomas Kramer: From Riches to Rags

Thomas Kramer at Home on Fisher Island, Miami Florida

Thomas Kramer. Photo by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

 

Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

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FROM RICHES TO RAGS

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A little over a decade ago in the Spring of 2007,  I received a phone call from a journalist from Hamburg, Germany to discuss a photo assignment. He wanted me to illustrate a photo story he was working on for the German Press about Thomas Kramer, a property developer that ignited the real estate boom in Miami Beach during the 1990’s. I was immediately intrigued by the story and agreed to take the assignment.  I met the journalist in Miami Beach, at a cozy boutique hotel  located on Ocean Boulevard.  At a meeting on the eve of the shoot the journalist provided more background about the reason for the story.  I was told that Mr. Kramer had just been sued by one of the wealthiest families in Germany for fraud. The lavish lifestyle that I was about to witness may be short lived.

We arrived at the mansion on the magnificent Fisher Island at around 10:00am the next day to be greeted by a gregarious man who appeared to be happy to have our company as I photographed him around his lavish estate. Mr. Kramer mentioned the suit quite openly during our time together but evoked a certain confidence throughout the day that he would prevail.  During our lunch break, he had several servants serve us a wonderful lunch with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables lean meat and fresh juices.  There were a few ladies around as well since he was known for being an unapologetic playboy.   After the first day of shooting he  invited  me to a Shaquille O’Neill party (his neighbor) who also resided on the tiny exclusive island.

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Thomas Kramer on his way to a Shaquille O'Neil party

Thomas Kramer on his way to Shaquille O’Neil’s party.

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One of the most memorable moments of the photo shoot with Thomas Kramer was when he invited me and my assistant to visit his master suite.  I vividly recall seeing in his bathroom, a massive amount of fragrances of all the various designer brands that lined his vanity of excess.  During the tour, in the same setting, was a security door where he placed his palm on what appeared to be a keypad. He said it was his safe room. The room was not that big like other rooms in the mansion, but it was lined floor to ceiling with a seemingly endless supply of various types of  guns and other weaponry. Clearly the man was paranoid and for good reason.

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THOMAS_KRAMER_tony-Ward_Studio-miam-beach-developer-bankruptcy

Thomas Kramer and his Gold cross.

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It would take another 10 years, but on September 28, 2017; Thomas Kramer lost his battle in court and received a $192.4 million judgment against him.  His greatest paranoia may have been realized.  The plaintiffs in the case used that judgment against him to credit bid foreclosure and ultimately take title to his luxurious lifestyle and property. He seemed to have had fun while it lasted.

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To access more Diary entries by Tony Ward, click herehttp://tonyward.com/2018/04/diary-a-fashion-shoot-at-the-jersey-shore/

 

This entry was posted in Accessories, Architecture, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Fashion, Glamour, History, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women.

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