By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
The tall, lanky German is hardly a stranger to controversy. Ever since he moved to Miami in late 1991 A and spent, according to von Hanau, more than $100 million for 45 acres of South Beach real estate A he has been in the public eye, often under embarrassing circumstances. ("Tycoon Thomas," a December 1992 New Times cover story, and several shorter followups have chronicled Kramer's often outrageous antics.) In October 1992, at the opening of his extravagant Ocean Drive nightclub Hell, he purportedly declared in front of a line of invited guests that "these people are all too ugly to come in." He is said to have followed up that crowd pleaser by discouraging the entry of gay patrons.
Within a few months, Hell had closed, but the outrageousness continued. A model named Shelly Hall filed a complaint with Miami Beach police alleging that Kramer had fondled her breasts. Hall did not pursue the complaint. In April 1993, Kramer was sued for sexual harassment by Marjorie Pulice, an employee of his Collins Avenue corporation Olympus Holdings, who alleged that "non-consensual grabbing" had taken place while she was working for him in South Hampton, Long Island. (The charges were dropped when the matter was resolved out of court.)
Kramer has also proven himself somewhat inept at public relations. The same month Pulice filed her lawsuit, he alienated Miami's Cuban community by telling the German magazine Stern that he believed Cubans would return to the island once it was free, and that Miami is thus fortunate to be "the only big city in America that has the prospect to, perfectly effortlessly, get rid of its slums." (Kramer claimed his remarks were misinterpreted.)
Last year Miami Beach police were called to break up a fight at Les Bains nightclub between Kramer and another patron who accused the real estate mogul of antagonizing him with anti-Semitic remarks. Kramer's publicist later vehemently denied that he had made any derogatory ethnic comments.
In June of last year, Kramer was interviewed by Beach police after he allegedly threw a glass of wine at a pesky panhandler. No charges were filed.
None of these incidents appears to have weakened Portofino's negotiating position vis-a-vis the City of Miami Beach, though Kramer's original plans for his South Pointe properties have metamorphosed from a vague scheme to construct a low-rise development emulating an Italian resort village to visions of casino gambling and colossal condo towers.
The pending charges in Zurich might interfere with Kramer's latest development strategy, however. According to John Shewairy, district intelligence officer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a foreigner traveling on a nonimmigrant visa who is under investigation for an aggravated felony such as sexual battery can be denied entry into the United States. "He could be excluded from entry even though he had a valid visa, on the grounds of moral turpitude," says Shewairy.