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Developers of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas Have Spent Big on Art and Attorneys


By Douglas Hanks, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jul. 10, 2009--The Fontainebleau Las Vegas has spent about $7 million on bankruptcy lawyers and advisors and $5 million on art.

Those expenditures were revealed in a new batch of financial documents filed by lawyers for Jeffrey Soffer, the prominent South Florida developer behind the stalled project.

Lenders and Soffer's team are in mediation talks this week in an effort to resume construction of the $3 billion casino hotel, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.

Soffer bought the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 2005.

In 2007, he began building a second 3,800-room Fontainebleau on the Vegas Strip.

He has said the Vegas project's problems will not affect the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

The new documents detail about $500 million in assets for the Vegas project, and $2.1 billion in debts. But that doesn't include the value of the unfinished 63-story tower, which Fontainebleau said it has not appraised since construction at the site of the old Algiers and El Rancho hotel began, according to the court documents.

Along with an accounting of recent payments to contractors, consultants and government agencies, the filings offer a look at the project's five-star aspirations.

The documents list more than 50 pieces of art bought for the hotel, including a $1 million sculpture called A Gift from the Earth and a $60,000 ballroom chandelier.

Fifteen pieces are listed as now hanging at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

According to the filings, Miami's Bilzin Sumberg law firm has been paid $2.3 million, the biggest payout so far among the hotel's bankruptcy attorneys and consultants.

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Miami Herald

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