Claude Dray, a billionaire French art collector and real estate investor, was found dead in his home in a Paris suburb Tuesday. Investigators believe the murder might have been a professional hit. Dray bought South Beach's historic National Hotel in 2007 and also was involved in other real estate investments in Miami.
Dray and his wife Simone were considered some of the most important collectors of art deco furniture, but sold off their collection in 2006 for a record-breaking $76 million. A year later, Dray bought what could be considered a crown jewel of any art deco collection, an actual historic Miami Beach art deco hotel. Dray took control of the National for an undisclosed sum. He was also an investor in the Plaza at Brickell condominium complex.
According to the Daily Mail, a butler found Dray dead in his bedroom at 9 a.m. Tuesday, dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt. Three bullets were lodged in his neck. Investigators believe the murder might have been a professional hit, and think the gunman used a silencer on a 15-year-old pistol. However, the weapon has not been found.
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Dray, one of the most prominent Jews in France, had received several threats in the past, and his mansion, the Villa Madrid, was armed with state-of-the-art security and often patrolled by guards.
Investigators found no signs of a break-in, and the domestic staff never heard the gun shots.
His wife was in the United States at the time of the murder.