Thomas Kramer's South Beach Story Ends With $200 Million Court Judgment

Thomas Kramer's South Beach Story Ends With $200 Million Court Judgment

Red-eyed with exhaustion, Thomas Kramer slumped behind his empty desk. The real estate tycoon had been up all night worrying about how to break the news to his employees. As they filed in, he reached across the desk and grabbed a bottle of pills. Behind him, green lights blinked on an oversize map, indicating the dozens of exotic locales he'd visited. But the shell-shocked look on his face made the towering, blond German look less a glamorous entrepreneur than the general of a defeated army.

It was a Thursday morning in early March, and Kramer had called an emergency staff meeting in his "war room," as he referred to the office in his opulent Star Island mansion. The seven-member team that gathered around him had known for months their boss was facing money problems. He was so short of cash, in fact, he'd borrowed money from friends and sold off his extensive watch collection to meet payroll. Until we marched into his office, though, no one knew just how dire the situation had become.

"I can no longer afford to keep you guys," Kramer said softly as he began to cry. "There are only so many watches I can sell. I feel like I have failed you all."

Thomas Kramer is famous for his extravagant lifestyle.
HFP/ZUMA Press
Thomas Kramer is famous for his extravagant lifestyle.
Kramer's Portofino Tower is still a high-end hot spot in South Beach.
Marc Averette
Kramer's Portofino Tower is still a high-end hot spot in South Beach.

In the 12 months I'd worked for Kramer as his in-house writer, I'd witnessed firsthand his crippling mood swings, but I'd never seen him this depressed. "I see no other option," he sobbed.

That morning marked a new low in one of the most incredible rise-and-fall stories in Miami Beach's storied history of booms and busts. In the 1990s, Kramer was SoBe royalty, the man who'd spearheaded the South of Fifth revival and ruled from a waterfront mansion where wild shindigs sometimes turned into outright orgies. More than anyone, he symbolized an era of glamour, decadence, and carefree excess.

Now it was all over thanks to a Swiss court ruling in January that Kramer had to repay nearly $200 million to a German currency-printing dynasty. His appeals were up. Everything had to go — the house, the staff, the jewelry, the extensive cellar of vintage wine, even the taxidermied giraffe that greeted visitors in the hallway. Because of my job in Kramer's mansion, I had a unique front-row seat for his last days in Miami Beach. I saw one man's desperate efforts to salvage his name and his livelihood, afraid but hopeful that some last-minute opportunity would save him from financial ruin.

In fact, by the time he dismissed his staff, Kramer had already found the man he believed could be his long-shot savior: a scandal-tarred Pakistani plutocrat named Malik Riaz who wanted a partner to build a $20 billion island city in Karachi. Riaz, Kramer said that morning between sobs, was his last best hope.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bring Pakistan back on the map of the leading nations in the world," Kramer later said of the project.

If he succeeds in Karachi, Kramer could pull off the ultimate coup in a career full of remarkable comebacks. If he fails, though, it's anyone's guess how low he could fall.

"I don't see any possibility of the island project materializing," says Amir Mateen, a Pakistani reporter who wrote a ten-part series about Malik Riaz for the Pakistani newspaper the Spokesman. "It has all the ingredients of a scam."


Thomas Kramer was a notorious figure even as a teenager. He was born April 27, 1957, in Frankfurt, Germany, and by the age of 13 he was making waves with a rabidly right-wing student newspaper he founded called Pausenzeichen, the German word for "recess" or "break."

As student protests raged against the Vietnam War, young Thomas watched cars burning in the street and police battling protesters, he recalled in interviews for his unpublished memoirs. Even though he had yet to visit the country, Kramer loved America, or at least the idea of America. To him it represented freedom and democracy, while the student protesters represented the opposite: the tyranny of East German-style socialism.

After his home was graffitied with threats tied to his newspaper, his father, a stockbroker named Willi Kramer, and his mother, Ingeborg, shipped Thomas off to Salem Boarding School, a posh private academy housed in a castle. Suddenly surrounded by students and teachers who agreed with his right-wing views, Kramer grew bored with politics. It was a move he'd repeat throughout his life. He thrived on conflict.

Instead, the teenager turned his energies to making money in the stock market just like his father. The fact that Willi's son wasn't old enough to trade didn't stop him. Kramer often told a story about changing his age on his passport, opening an account with 500 Deutschmarks, and then trading on the school pay phone. By the end of high school, he claimed, he made his first million Deutschmarks. (Though he also admitted he just as quickly lost it on bad investments — another recurring pattern.)

By 1976, Kramer was working on Wall Street, where he spent the next decade as a commodities trader commuting between Germany and New York. He was already getting a reputation as a major-league playboy. For his 30th birthday party in 1987, he rented a German castle, invited 200 guests, and made a grand entrance dressed as a circus ringmaster riding an elephant.

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52 comments
JoshTheRadioDude
JoshTheRadioDude

Y'know, if he really wanted to make some money with a TV show, he should sell his own life story and have it turned into a drama for HBO or Showtime... or even Netflix.  This sounds like something millions would watch in hour-long format each week.

kaladelosrios
kaladelosrios

It is pointless at this time to lecture you about an important value that you lack of: LOYALTY. Unfortunately, this is something that the victim of your bad action didn't know when he trusted you and gave you a job opportunity. Not only he opened the doors of his office, but also the doors of his home and a space at his table for you to eat his food and drink his wine. How could you be capable of betraying him in the way you did? That says a lot about you. This is the truth, not the false statements that you are making up about your former employer.

rikkilen
rikkilen

what a messed up thing to do to TK. he's human just like the rest of us. don't hate the player hate the game.

roberty17
roberty17

What an OUTRAGEOUS WHITEWASH! Where are the other allegations of rape and the associated payoffs? What about the CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGE? No mention of his ANTI-SEMETICS VIEWS, his NAZI-MEMORIBILIA COLLECTION? The COFFIN? C'MON! It just goes to show you how much people value others by how much $ they have HERE IN SOUTH FLORIDA. I challenge anyone with a person who was close to TK and not come up with some EVIL BASTARD STORY. Just step onto his yard and you tell me if you don't sense any evil...I dare you...

roberty17
roberty17

What an OUTRAGEOUS WHITEWASH! Where are the other allegations of rape and the associated payoffs? What about the CHILD MOLESTATION CHARGE? No mention of his ANTI-SEMETICS VIEWS, his NAZI-MEMORIBILIA COLLECTION? The COFFIN? C'MON! It just goes to show you how much people value others by how much $ they have HERE IN SOUTH FLORIDA. I challenge anyone with a person who was close to TK and not come up with some EVIL BASTARD STORY. Just step onto his yard and you tell me if you don't sense any evil...I dare you...

salerno_2009
salerno_2009

I worked for Thomas long enough to know he is more better person than the rest of the millionaires in florida, he give you what you deserved yes he have a strong personality and arrogant too, but to many times as an employee I am talking he show how important human beings we are for him sitting in the same table with him and show respect never ever worked for a person like him  I am going to miss youTK, don't listen all this looser that when you make the beautiful parties  they begin outside to get in the masnion I wait for your came back!

Phillip
Phillip

Excellent article on Kramer! I feel sorry for the guy.... he is greatly misunderstood.I wish him good luck. 

Exiliado
Exiliado topcommenter

This article makes you think.

How many others like TK are out there posing as successful, generous entrepreneurs, when they're just burning somebody else's money. 

pologina
pologina

As ostentatious and arrogant Kramer might be, nobody can deny that it was HIS brainchild to build-up of SoFi. His bold imagination has added tremendous value to this city, as Machiavellian as his approach might have been.

I met him many moons ago in Munich and I was invited to his winter home in Kitzbuehl. Even though quite annoying and full of himself, he was a perfect gentleman to me. 

Moreover, one can judge a man's character by the way he treats his staff and friends. Even though capricious and demanding, the fact that he was otherwise very generous to them shows some degree of virtue among his many vices......

GanjaGuapo
GanjaGuapo

Kramer did not spend 6M on the Club Hell fiasco... He might have spent 6M on the purchase of the building and land but the club was nothing more than an empty hotel converted to a biker bar - All plywood props from top to bottom... It was like a movie set...All façade.

Kramer also had a penchant for treating the peasants like peasants!  With that kind of black leather pants Hummer driving Euro arrogance  - especially when we discover Dude was spending other's money! TK just did not have any character....Nothing redeeming about this Cat!

Now we discover that he does not want to pay his promissory note!

I say Auf Wiedersehen !  Welcome to the Honda Accord lifestyle Tomas!

ho.bosse
ho.bosse

Kramer was attending Frankfurt University while I was studying economics there. Rumor has it that he never graduated. In fact he was looking for students to write his exams. Nevertheless he claimed in public that he had been studying at Harvard. Well, seems a little far fetched provided that he supposedly never graduated from Frankfurt University. He is nothing more than a poser. A noisy and ruthless one. Streetsmart but not profoundly intelligent. He had the chance of a lifetime that few people will ever have - and he blew it. Big time! We are looking for taxi drivers in Frankfurt. Good luck for his new profession.

SoBe
SoBe

WOW....it doesn't happen really often that you get so many insights into something. The biggest german newspaper reported today about that issue and cited the miaminewtimes article as source. 


Even the picture showing Kramer hanging at the Portofino tells a lot because he had a model of the Portofino placed at the entrance of his office and a King Kong was hanging at it...


I guess it would be interesting to know from the editor if she had moral issues writing this article because she worked for Kramer and actually you owe loyalty to your employer. Even more, she only got all these insights because she should write his autobiographie, now all that stuff is used for journalistic purposes.

Furthermore, it would be nice to know if Kramer has reserves in countries where the authorithies might not get access to. I still can't believe that he has to sell off his watches and luxury stuff. Nevertheless, he is staying in Cannes these days, can he then really be that short of cash?

His story now seems to equal the story of two young german guys (S&K) who had a similar lifestyle but had their cash from a ponzi scheme. They got arrested a couple of weeks ago and they knew Kramer. There are pictures showing them at Star Island and others show Kramer at their Frankfurt office. They even gave Kramer a Bentley during he stayed in Frankfurt. Kramer just twittered that he doesn't know these guys and that they just attended one of his parties but that is not true for sure....would be very interesting to know if Kramer and S&K cooperated somehow....there is a lot of speculating about that in german internet forums.

There are still so many open questions, seems like one more article is necessary...



DjStrip
DjStrip

This should have happened a lot sooner but none-the-less it is still so sweet to see such a douchebag finally fall from grace. as someone who was in South Beach long before he got there and long enough to see what a scumbag this guy was but at that point it was quite easy to get away with it because South Beach had filled up with so many low lives just like him he fit is actually quite well. I actually credit him with making rebar a club I opened right after hell as one of the biggest successful openings ever in South Beach because his Fiasco of opening hell was such a disaster it made our club opening even that much more special. I remember being inside hell when it first opened and I went to see my friend Dmitry from Dee lite who was DJing and he was so pissed off because there was nobody in the club he was keeping everyone outside and I'll never forget my friend Geo darder who was working the front door he was so pissed off so I left because the only people that were inside were total losers and rich phonies just like Kramer. After his this disasterous opening and the comments he made about gay people the guy was completely demonized by anybody cool in South Beach and the fact that he had the nerve to stay down there for long as he did just goes to even prove even more what an arrogant douchebag this guy was is and will always be. And junkie Michael Capponi who is just another rich kid trust fund loser is just another real estate ass kiss and has no fucking right to say anything about what Kramer was involved with. To most people Southpoint towers and Porta Fino towers are an eysore on the beach and nobody wanted that area to be developed in such a ridiculous way. Adios Asshole! LOL

miamigirl
miamigirl

Well done.  This article was both professional and heartfelt.

Lysette
Lysette

Great article. Very compassionate and kind of sad. I attended a few of tk's parties. He is a nice guy and a gracious host and Im sorry to hear he is going thru this. Hopefully everything works out for him. 

Katerina
Katerina

I have met Thomas Kramer and I have to say that he is a humble and friendly person. His house has always been open for everybody and he gave an opportunity to many people. I don't know that many people who are like this. I think he didnt deserve this article.

ohnomiami
ohnomiami

Wow. Well written.  Where will Kramer live next?  

home6041800
home6041800

They should demolish Portofino Tower - It was never his design anyway!!

home6041800
home6041800

Why don't they post my comment - Everything about him is a fake - I can't belive he got away with this bull shit all this time - people are so stupid - everything about him is fake  - haha another day in paradise - rot in hell TK -do us all a big favor and go get a real job and work for a while before you blow your brain out!!

skndrgnlkrmz
skndrgnlkrmz

lera gavin did an amazing story about it . Omg she has so much insider info . 


Mel Gonul
Mel Gonul

woow , who ever wrote it has a huge insider info

Mgp Bjj
Mgp Bjj

Great article, really enjoyed it

mar1ley
mar1ley

When your future is pinned on a hail mary real estate deal in Karachi I think the end is near!

ALisaRauner
ALisaRauner

What an amazing well written article . In fact the best article I have ever read in New Times!

alexlacayo
alexlacayo

I have always said, nothing surprises me anymore, The devil was once an Angel.  Thomas you are way better than the rest of them.. you never did anything bad to this person and this is how people repay you.  Guess you are no longer worth anything when you are not paying someone a salary...  Saw it many times through out the years.  You been nice to people and they would go out and talk shit about you with everyone.. you didn't deserve this.. specially when I saw you selling  your valuable belongings so you could pay these people  a very top executive salary for producing nothing. ..  You are way better person Thomas. . Always making everyone feel at home. . She validated again the reason I stay away from people.. just sad. . You of all people did not deserve this...   keep your head up always... i know you are reading this.. and i know how much new times loves you through out the years but  this one has gotta to hurt because this is written by someone  you gave trust and love to... 


ad_305
ad_305

Incredible read. It never ceases to amaze me how far down the dark and sordid roots of South Beach go - can't say I'll be able to look at South of Fifth the same way from now on. This was a great viewpoint into the precipitous rise and fall of one of Miami's most contentious individuals. Looking forward to the next article, Lera!

MiamiBeachNative
MiamiBeachNative

So glad to see him getting what he deserves. Too bad it wasn't before he'd ruined South Beach with his tacky high-rise monstrosities, which are totally out of scale with the original neighborhood. I'll never be able to forgive him for tearing down what was then the oldest standing hotel in Miami Beach, the Leonard Beach Hotel, in 1993 when he turned into his very short-lived (but appropriately named) nightclub Hell, which made it structurally unsound. http://www.miaminewtimes.com/1993-06-23/news/score-another-knockdown-for-thomas-kramer/ 

Of course, in typical Miami fashion, so many "fame"-whore locals kissed his ass, since they always seem to worship whatever criminals or other "famous" trash (Kramer, OJ Simpson, Kardashians, etc.) that are currently throwing money around the city which they have no real commitment to. 

kamletmd1
kamletmd1

Karma is a bitch. I was the one who gave TK the ibogaine and yes the alcohol and drug abuse diminished. I always felt TK was a mad genius, greatly misunderstood who suffered from mood swings.  Mania is an interesting demon. One builds a house, another builds a city. throw enough shit against a wall and some will eventually stick. I still wish my friend the best in everything as despite his peccadilloes, he can be a loving wonderful friend. I have also seen him grow so much over two decades; p[personally, spiritually and hopefully ethically. perhaps something he learned while on Ibogaine will hold him to a new standard of earning money ethically and realizing that there is great joy in that journey. del,,, maybe?

kamletmd1
kamletmd1

I have been the mans friend and doctor for 20 years. Kick em when he is down? when so many fought to be guests at his parties etc. Yes, TK has some demons but no ore then most of the fakers and posers in SoBe. This whole town is full of people whose mania blurs the borders on genius and insanity.

when he was riding high on the horse, he was king because Sobe worships the "the king has no clothes?

Men of true honor like common sense, are not common at all, especially is SoBe. 

WhyNotNow
WhyNotNow topcommenter

There is a reason Portofino tower is taller than any other building. It was supposed to be 34 floors. But. Kramer bamboozled the city by having all the text read 34 floors, while the actual drawings had 44 floors. No one noticed until the building was under construction and the powers that be at the time let him go ahead.

internetinternet
internetinternet

Miami Beach is built on scandal.   Maybe now the county will collect the near millions in property tax on 5 Star Island.  Amazing that only a few people in Miami Beach bothered to research Mr. Kramer.  

sam_III
sam_III

Fascinating article.  Thank you.

Alex Beron
Alex Beron

Christian Reggie Morilla read it

Babs
Babs

Isn't today the 21? Is this article a prediction into the future? 

ladiiinesiita
ladiiinesiita

@roberty17  I have worked for Thomas Kramer and many more known people. And by far Kramer has been the most respectful and never thought to be better then anyone else just because he had moeny. He had his style and craziness but aside from that he had a huge heart and I respect the person he is.

fxowen
fxowen

@roberty17 Dude, lay off the bath salts. 

TheTruth
TheTruth

@alexlacayo

@alexlacayo At some point Alex please try to take your head out of Thomas's ass. GESH! Thomas, TK, whatever you call him was an awful  awful man and EVERYONE around him knew that. He was AWFUL to his staff, sometimes when I would visit Id want to curl up into a ball for them; The way he screamed at them with his eyes bulging and veins popping out of his neck. spite flying everywhere....how many times did he make his staff cry because they used the wrong font in an email or was wearing a color that he didn't like.

He would have these parties because he couldn't stand being alone. His own daughter that lived with him hardly spoke to him and often times would scream out in front if the staff "I l wish he would just die"

None of these accounts are a secret. We all witnessed them first hand. How is that "a great guy"?

Yes he would let anyone stay at his home......and then complain that the guest where there do they think this is a hotel?

Yes he would make lunch for his staff then say do they think this is a restaurant?

Yes he would give his staff wine and champagne after work to try to get them to stay at the property when he couldn't find "friends" to come over for dinner so that he wasn't alone.

The man had a loans up the ass I hear , that man was borrowing money from friends yet spending thousands on things that were worth NOTHING....again no secret he would brag about his latest purchase and when you googled it and  it wasn't worth half of what he claimed to have paid for it.

I wanted to purchase one of his paintings he had up for auction and this man paid double for the painting. I got the painting at more than half of what he purchased it for.

The Thomas Kramer we all saw on Housewives was a watered down version of the evil man who is Thomas Kramer.

One of his staff members who worked there for over 3 years bless her soul told me when Thomas father died the main thing he was concerned about was getting his inheritance. Not that his father had died. Then he started purchasing TK lighters and all kinds of rubbish. He has no regard for life, family, and doesn't know what humble means. He went on a spend spree and then started traveling.....now hes broke? Give me a break! I hope they find all the money he has hidden and leave him with 60,000 a year. Most people live well on $60,000 a year. Let him see wat life really is.

I feel for anyone who had to be around this man without having a choice to be, they should all sue him for emotional and verbal abuse. He made several of them cry, he made some of them want to kill themselves, many of them were already drug addicts as he was and he made them take more drugs. Sometimes even offering his own prescriptions to them. All these lies about he doesn't do drugs or drink. Who believes that? Thomas drinks openly at restaurants and at parties, I was at a party where Thomas was smoking weed. So stop with the bullshit already. He doesn't care about you. Only when the truth comes out hes an "angel" when he "thinks" things are going well he walks around treating people like shit throwing things and acting like a crazed man.  

I always wondered how they managed to not be emotionally ruined by this man but in honesty they all were. Its sad when you have to go through that kind of abuse from your employer only because you have bills and cant afford to tell him to fuck off!

Knowing Thomas Im sure hes not broke. He was bragging about his office in Abu Dhabi so believe me this man already hide his money. 

I hope all that he has put everyone through comes back to bite him in the ass BUT I hope  he doesnt put a bullet to his head as he often times says. I do think he should live off the rest of his days in a cell somewhere for stealing millions of dollars and treating people like shit.

For those who defend this man you deserve to be punished as well. At some point people need to stand for something rather than just going along with the crowd in an effort to get a invite to the next party.   @alex714 @leragavin great read

TheTruth
TheTruth

@alexlacayo

@alexlacayo At some point Alex please try to take your head out of Thomas's ass. GESH! Thomas, TK, whatever you call him was an awful  awful man and EVERYONE around him knew that. He was AWFUL to his staff, sometimes when I would visit Id want to curl up into a ball for them; The way he screamed at them with his eyes bulging and veins popping out of his neck. spite flying everywhere....how many times did he make his staff cry because they used the wrong font in an email or was wearing a color that he didn't like.

He would have these parties because he couldn't stand being alone. His own daughter that lived with him hardly spoke to him and often times would scream out in front if the staff "I l wish he would just die"

None of these accounts are a secret. We all witnessed them first hand. How is that "a great guy"?

Yes he would let anyone stay at his home......and then complain that the guest where there do they think this is a hotel?

Yes he would make lunch for his staff then say do they think this is a restaurant?

Yes he would give his staff wine and champagne after work to try to get them to stay at the property when he couldn't find "friends" to come over for dinner so that he wasn't alone.

The man had a loans up the ass I hear , that man was borrowing money from friends yet spending thousands on things that were worth NOTHING....again no secret he would brag about his latest purchase and when you googled it and  it wasn't worth half of what he claimed to have paid for it.

I wanted to purchase one of his paintings he had up for auction and this man paid double for the painting. I got the painting at more than half of what he purchased it for.

The Thomas Kramer we all saw on Housewives was a watered down version of the evil man who is Thomas Kramer.

One of his staff members who worked there for over 3 years bless her soul told me when Thomas father died the main thing he was concerned about was getting his inheritance. Not that his father had died. Then he started purchasing TK lighters and all kinds of rubbish. He has no regard for life, family, and doesn't know what humble means. He went on a spend spree and then started traveling.....now hes broke? Give me a break! I hope they find all the money he has hidden and leave him with 60,000 a year. Most people live well on $60,000 a year. Let him see wat life really is.

I feel for anyone who had to be around this man without having a choice to be, they should all sue him for emotional and verbal abuse. He made several of them cry, he made some of them want to kill themselves, many of them were already drug addicts as he was and he made them take more drugs. Sometimes even offering his own prescriptions to them. All these lies about he doesn't do drugs or drink. Who believes that? Thomas drinks openly at restaurants and at parties, I was at a party where Thomas was smoking weed. So stop with the bullshit already. He doesn't care about you. Only when the truth comes out hes an "angel" when he "thinks" things are going well he walks around treating people like shit throwing things and acting like a crazed man.  

I always wondered how they managed to not be emotionally ruined by this man but in honesty they all were. Its sad when you have to go through that kind of abuse from your employer only because you have bills and cant afford to tell him to fuck off!

Knowing Thomas Im sure hes not broke. He was bragging about his office in Abu Dhabi so believe me this man already hide his money. 

I hope all that he has put everyone through comes back to bite him in the ass BUT I hope  he doesnt put a bullet to his head as he often times says. I do think he should live off the rest of his days in a cell somewhere for stealing millions of dollars and treating people like shit.

For those who defend this man you deserve to be punished as well. At some point people need to stand for something rather than just going along with the crowd in an effort to get a invite to the next party.   @alex714 @leragavin great read

FlDeptofHealth
FlDeptofHealth

@kamletmd1

Are you Dr. Jeffrey D Kamlet M.D. ??? Is it OK for you to be talking about a patients medical history and prescriptions on Miami New Times?

FlDeptofHealth
FlDeptofHealth

@kamletmd1 Are you Dr. Jeffrey D. Kamlet M.D, ??? Is it O.K. for you to talk about this guys prescriptions and medical history here on Miami New Times?

FlDeptofHealth
FlDeptofHealth

@kamletmd1 Are you Dr. Jeffrey D Kamlet M.D. ??? Is it OK for you to be talking about a patients medical history and prescriptions on Miami New Times?

Antidisestablishment
Antidisestablishment

I would blame"the powers that be" it's their job to protect city residents against this.

franzduff
franzduff

@internetinternet Brilliant. Perhaps you meant to say IF the property is purchased. Certainly you are not cretinous enough to think Thomas is going to pay.


Thetruth
Thetruth

I thought you had something private you wanted to say. We can communicate here.

 
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