In 1928, Miami Beach’s polite society was rocked with the news that the notorious gangster, Chicago crime boss Al Capone, had purchased a home on Palm Island, one of the city’s newest and most prestigious addresses.
According to toptenrealestatedeals.com, Al Capone lived in the waterfront mansion until his death in 1947, much to the chagrin of local government and the State Governor.
His wife Mae Capone held on to the infamous home until 1952.
For decades, accounts of Capone’s connection with the home and Miami Beach have been a colourful part of the city’s history.
However, it has recently been purchased by a developer for US$10.75 million, who reportedly plans to tear it down and replace it with a modern two-storey house.
During the early development of Miami Beach, causeways (roads built on landfill and bridges) spanned the distance over Biscayne Bay from Miami to Miami Beach.
Developers also dredged the bay to create man-made residential islands extending off the causeways.
With only one gated entry and exit to each island and heavy police security, homes were considered to be very secure.
It was an ideal location for Capone and he bought the 1922 home at a distressed sale price of US$40,000, two years after the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 that wiped out much of the city.
He then poured US$200,000 – over US$3 million by today’s standards – to install a gatehouse, a seven-foot-high wall, searchlights, cabana and coral rock grotto.
Safe and secure from his Chicago crime rivals, it was the home where Capone was vacationing, and his alibi, when his gang pulled off the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
For additional security, he had guards posted on the second floor of the cabana to protect him from anyone arriving by boat and also at the gatehouse.
Capone returned to the home after he was released from prison in 1939, and it’s where he resided until he died in 1947.
The Capone home, which is 565sq m, and has four bedrooms and a pool, has been through several changes in ownership over the years.
It is now owned by the same South Florida developer, Todd Michael Glaser, who recently purchased and then demolished Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion.
Similar to the disgraced and incarcerated financiers’ former estate, Capone’s home is on a prime waterfront lot that Glaser plans to tear down and replace with a modern two-storey home with eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a Jacuzzi, spa and sauna.
Still one of Florida’s most upscale neighbourhoods with home prices ranging from about US$20 million to over US$40 million, Palm Island and its close neighbours Hibiscus Island and Star Island are accessed from MacArthur Causeway that traverses Biscayne Bay from Brickell Avenue on the Miami side to South Miami Beach.
Many celebrities have also made these islands home, such as Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Rosie O’Donnell, Sean Combs, Shaquille O’Neal, Phillip Frost and even Don Johnson at the height of his Miami Vice stardom.