Court Seizes Fashion Mogul Peter Nygard's Opulent Bahamian Estate Over Illegal Dredging

Article Image

Posted October 4, 2018

The luxurious Caribbean estate owned by Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been seized by the Supreme Court of the Bahamas, the latest development in a years-long dispute over illegal dredging of Nygard’s beachfront property that has raised the ire of an environmental group backed by the designer’s billionaire neighbours.

The seizure follows years of court actions between Nygard and his next-door neighbour, American billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon. For more than a decade, the two have been locked in a bitter, bizarre conflict that has included allegations of a murder-for-hire plot and a staged Ku Klux Klan rally, in addition to the more mundane environmental concerns.

As of Friday, Nygard no longer has access to his estate at Nygard Cay, according to Fred Smith, a lawyer with Save the Bays, an organization working to protect the country’s marine environment from residential and industrial development.

The court ordered the seizure after Nygard failed to pay nearly $3 million in legal fees owed to Save the Bays, which has been fighting for years to stop him dredging the sea floor around his estate. Smith said Nygard has roughly doubled the size of his property over 30 years, enlarging his own beach while starving the natural flow of sand to neighbouring properties and a nearby national park.

Smith said Nygard has repeatedly ignored a 2013 injunction banning him from dredging, which has led to three contempt of court convictions against the entrepreneur that could lead to jail time. “Mr. Nygard considers himself to be completely above the law in the Bahamas,” Smith said. “He’s been running his little Republic of Nygard since the 1980s here.”

Peter Nygard with Robert De Niro in Nygard Cay, Bahamas Peter Nygård Global / Archival image

Nygard, in his 70s, did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement last year, a spokesperson said “the removal and stockpiling of sand from the Nygard Cay marina was carried out in good faith in full accordance with the conditions of a government-issued permit.”

It really isn’t a little petty squabble between Mr. Nygard and Mr. Bacon. … This is Nygard demonstrating that he considers himself to be a law unto himself

Nygard has previously claimed that Save the Bays is a “front” for Bacon, whom he claims is trying to take over his property. “Louis Bacon has always wanted Nygard Cay for himself and Mr. Nygard has never been interested in selling his home,” a lawyer said in a 2014 statement.

Bacon is a board member of Save the Bays, though Smith said the organization doesn’t exist solely to fight Nygard. “We were created to deal with issues in the Clifton Bay area, and Mr. Nygard was one of the main culprits,” he said.

Nygard and Bacon, who own adjacent properties in Lyford Cay, a gated community on New Providence island, have been embroiled in a dispute for years that now encompasses more than a dozen legal actions. According to a 2016 Vanity Fair story, the conflict began with a slight drainage issue in 2007, but has escalated dramatically. In 2016, Bacon filed a lawsuit alleging Nygard had tried to hire criminals to kill him and Smith. A lawyer of Nygard’s once organized a parade attempting to link Bacon to the Ku Klux Klan.

“This has become very serious,” Smith said. “It really isn’t a little petty squabble between Mr. Nygard and Mr. Bacon. … This is Nygard demonstrating that he considers himself to be a law unto himself.”

Nygard, whom Vanity Fair described as the “Hugh Hefner of down-market retail,” was born in Finland and grew up in Winnipeg, where he founded his women’s clothing company in 1967. Nygard International now has more than 170 stores across North America.

His Mayan-inspired estate in the Bahamas features carved dragons, giant statues of nude women and what he claims is the largest sauna in the world, according to the magazine.

But the estate, once known for its lavish parties, is much quieter today. An electrical fire in 2009 destroyed many of the structures, and Nygard hasn’t been able to get permits to rebuild, thanks to the lawsuits against him. Smith said Nygard has only been in the Bahamas a handful of times in the last couple of years.

Bacon has also left the island to return to New York, and visits infrequently. Smith said he feared for his safety.

Source: National Post