FISHER ISLAND, FL-An affiliate of Euro Fund Equities bought 100% of the membership interests in this 216-acre island enclave, once the winter retreat of railroad magnate William K. Vanderbilt. According to published reports, the seller, Fisher Island Holdings LLC, which is the father/son team of John and Daniel Melk, acquired it from Mutual Benefit Life in 1998 for $50 million. No broker was involved in the transaction, and the price to EFP is undisclosed.

Even on condition of anonymity, area brokers reached by refused to speculate on the price, because, as one says, “there is no comparable property.” According to a representative of New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, which was among EFP’s legal advisors on the transaction, the island has land for the development of an additional 200 residential condo units. That availability alone, one broker says, would “probably be valued in excess of $100 million.”

It is not alone. The acquisition by Fisher Island Investments Inc., the US subsidiary of London-based EFP, encompasses in addition to full rights to the island’s residential development program, the inventory of for-sale condominiums, yacht slips in the island’s marina, equity and annual memberships in the Fisher Island Club, and Fisher Island Hotel & Resort. A two-night stay at the hotel is advertised as beginning at $2,000.

Located just off Miami Beach’s South Pointe and accessible only by plane or boat, the private residential and resort community currently contains 675 residences owned by people from 40 countries. Of the couple dozen residences listed for sale, condo prices range from over $1 million to the $8-million range, and a 5,010-sf private villa is on the market for more than $4 million.

French-born David Aim, founder and CEO of EFP who just acquired a residential unit here, says in a statement, “we look forward to expanding the appeal of Fisher Island in the global luxury resort and residential marketplace…we plan to make investments in Fisher Island’s key assets, including its private club, spa and hotel, restaurants and recreational amenities, while building an extraordinary level of personal service for owners and guests.”

He will be CEO of Fisher Island Investments, and Cedrik Denain, a long-time Fisher Island resident, will be COO. Neither could be reached by press time. Christine Sanchez, Fisher Island’s director of marketing and communications, tells that planned improvements cannot be disclosed, but will be announced in February. She says they will include “raising Fisher Island Hotel & Resort to a five-star resort and private residential community. Everything is going to be revamped,” she says.

EFP is an open-ended real estate investment vehicle managed by London International Asset Management (LIAM), a member of London International Bank Holdings Group that specializes in buying, developing, managing and financing premier properties, primarily in France, Spain, the UK and Morocco. It has a joint-venture interest with New York-based Setai Group for the international expansion of Setai Club, a 40-story luxury condo and five-star resort in Miami Beach.

Fortress Investment Group financed the Fisher Island acquisitions. Alexis Gurdjian of Galaxis Advisory was EFP’s financial advisor and legal advisor was Didier Bruere-Dawson of Paris-based DeGualle Fleurance and Associes, supported by De La Cruz & Cutler, and by Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

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