– International Fashion Designer Peter Nygard is going to Court in The Bahamas to prove that higher ups in the Lyford Cay Property Owners Association led by Mary Braithwaite were part of a conspiracy with the International Hedge Fund Billionaire Louis Bacon to chase him out of The Bahamas and cause him his $100 million Mayan themed Mansion and cause irreversible damage to his international brand name.
The conflict stirs around a 550 square foot easement which may have become the most expensive and contentious piece of real estate in the Caribbean because of a feud between two of the wealthiest international personalities in the ultra luxurious, posh and mega rich gated community of Lyford Cay
The easement, it is alleged, is being used by Mr. Bacon as leverage against Mr. Nygard.
The saga is the stuff of a blockbuster Hollywood action/adventure movie. Take two of the world’s richest, flamboyant self-made men; a mysterious fire that gutted Nygard’s compound in 2009; the unsolved death of a former US Navy Seal on Bacon’s property; ultrasonic sound blasters aimed at injuring Nygard, his staff and visitors; a rogue former FBI agent and his side-kick former Bahamian policeman once convicted of killing a man in his custody; the secret taping of a London-based planning session conspiring to run Nygard out of Lyford Cay; an opportune Canadian Television Station broadcast alleging unsubstantiated claims of discredited persons now serving prison terms in the Eastern Caribbean; and powerful and influential players in the Bahamian Government looking the other way when its suited Mr. Bacon’s interest.
Mix that with the intrigue of the Lyford Cay Property Owners Association (LCPOA) and Mary Braithwaite allegedly countering with claims that its members are disgusted with so many Black Bahamians and other outsiders trafficking through Lyford Cay to attend one of the many fabled nights of partying and revelry at Nygard Cay.
“It would be a fall movie blockbuster. Daniel Craigg and George Clooney and stretch the plot a bit with Whitney Houston as the moll and you got a mega dollar movie franchise,” says a senior tourism and entertainment executive.
Even when things seemed to have cooled down between the two men – and – they are out of The Bahamas – the feud lingers on.
The Bacon and Nygard sides have been tugging it out in a war of signage deployment. But as fast as one side puts one sign up, the other side either painted over it or took it down.
Additionally, lawyers at the huge law-firm of Graham Thompson & Co for Mr. Bacon with nationally acclaimed Attorney, Keod Smith for Mr. Nygard, have raced back and forth on their blackberries, faxes, Ipads and teleconferences to bring calm and rationale to the feud.
Mr. Bacon bought his Point House property some years after the 1984 purchase by Mr. Nygard of what is now called Nygard Cay and his multi-million dollar construction of his Mayan-themed mansion.
Inside sources say the two international jet-setters were initially good neighbors and best of friends enjoying each other’s property. Then overnight, all hell broke lose after Mr. Bacon, who has an international reputation as a deep-pocketed land baron acquiring prime choice real estate around the world, began to manipulate the then existing right-of-way over the deeded easement which passes through Mr. Bacon’s property for Mr. Nygard and his visitors to access his property.
“Well if Mr. Nygard his staff, guests, friends and family can’t go across the right of way to get to Nygard Cay then the value of Nygard Cay takes on a new meaning. What’s the value of a piece of property if no one can access it?” asks a Licensed Surveyor in The Bahamas for over 45 years.
“It’s a strategy I have seen used many times to get people to sell at a price the other side can set because they have the upper hand. I have been called as a witness in so many Supreme Court cases over the years to explain what happened to existing easements or rights-of-way that were deeded or just became common areas because of frequent community public use,” the surveyor says.
The area of land upon which Point House and Nygard Cay sit were once a part of one tract of land from which their singular predecessor in title deeded a right-of-way as a benefit to Nygard’s land. Although it passes across Bacon’s land, he is not permitted to interfere or otherwise inhibit or prevent Nygard and his visitors from accessing and passing along it.
Mr. Nygard was basically undisturbed and enjoying unlimited restrictions by virtue of the easement until it’s appears that Mr. Bacon arrived on Lyford Cay and what some say spitted “the Achilles Heel of Nygard Cay.”
However Bahamian Real Property law is fiercely protective of existing covenants and rights-of-way over easements in documentary and possessory titles.
The law also makes it an offence to remove existing boundary markers which among other things, plot such deeded easement.
Just as harsh as the law is on trespassers, it is also unapologetic to persons who block rights-of-ways and easements and attempt to make such publicly and legally endorsed passages fall into restrictions at the disadvantage of the enjoyment of the entitled party.
In The Bahamas there is the popular old wife’s Proverb, “don’t move the old land mark.”
Mr. Bacon may have fared better in the media had he been appraised of this intrinsic mindset of Bahamians. Further, his cause is not helped when considering that Mr. Nygard is near and dear to thousands of Bahamians who appreciate his philanthropy to the Family Island Regattas, Cultural festivals and the buzz he creates in the local fashion showcases. Mr. Nygard has also been pushing to have Beach Volleyball sanctioned by the International Volleyball Federation and for The Bahamas as a major tournament venue on the circuit.
When Mr. Bacon reportedly took the law into his own hands a few years ago and realigned the easement while also building a marina and a boat basin on his property without the requisite approval of the Government, eye brows were raised in political circles.
“There is always this perception in The Bahamas that money can buy anything. If you are wrong money can buy you as much right as you need. Foreigners in The Bahamas seem to take advantage of this predilection in the former English speaking colonies of the Caribbean where the fine line between public trust is often subjected to the twisted logic of politicians and lawyers rolled up as lobbyists,” says a political activist.
“The right you have as a Bahamian on Monday will be sold away to the foreigner on Tuesday if there is no vigilance. It doesn’t matter which political party is in office. They all have their so called lawyers and accountants who double as special interests lobbyists and the country usually suffers in the long haul for what deal they hatch away from the lime-light and glare of public scrutiny between themselves and politicians under the table,” the activist says.
Mr. Nygard complained against the newly aligned right-of-way by way of a Writ of Summons filed in the Supreme Court on July, 22nd 2011 by which he seeks orders requiring Bacon to reconstruct it in exactly the same geographical location as it was originally as well as prohibiting him from “…utilizing the roadway of the said easement in any manner that is inconsistent with the use of and enjoyment by…” Nygard. He has since publicly allege through his representatives from Nygard Cay that the realignment of the easement by Bacon is a part of an ongoing conspiracy to push him off of Nygard Cay masterminded by Bacon, supported by high-ranking government officials of the Hubert Ingraham administration (2007-2012 FNM Government) and the local police, with unlawful tactics implemented infamous Attorneys of the 1980s and enforced by questionable and shady former law enforcement characters.
The boat basin and marina Mr. Bacon built is alleged to have caused environmental damage to the abutting statutory conservatory of Clifton Bay and the Nygard property, and may have been the major reason why Mr. Bacon unilaterally shut down the then existing right of way originally deeded to the property owners and built a new one over his property without passing on the privileges and right-of-way to Mr. Nygard as he was previously enjoying and as they say in the law had every expectation to enjoy.
Mr. Bacon can now take his 50-foot Scarab or any of his other super engine seacrafts out to sea at any hour of the day or night from a boat basin that actually moors in-land in a suspicious unapproved berth excavated beneath his house situate at the southwestern tip of the Island of New Providence less than 200 meters from the open ocean, itself covered by pitch-blackness at night-time and the lack of lighting glare in this sparsely inhabited part of the island.
Mr. Nygard’s protests were in vain. Rather than apply the law or even reprimand Mr. Bacon for the marina and boat basin, the FNM Government chillingly gave him retroactive approval for his incursion. This along with the fact that loading and off-loading of such a vessel cannot be seen by lair, land or sea is reminiscent of the intrigue of the illicit trades of the 1980’s through Bahamian waters by nefarious residents to our shores.
“If I went down to Nassau Ready Mix Concrete and ordered me 10 cubic yards of concrete to pour my foundation and told the truck to be on my property at a certain time in hopes that the Building Inspectors from the Ministry of Works would have already come and inspected it for my compliance with the building code, but the truck arrives ahead of the Inspectors. I could not, simply for economic purposes, decide to direct truck to pour that concrete. If I did, whenever the Building Inspectors did show up, they would make me dig that foundation up until they have done their due diligence. But in The Bahamas the rich and mighty can do as they please with the law but the small Bahamian businessman is held to strict accountability. I don’t have a problem with that. But what is good for the goose has got to be good for the gander,” says local building contractor.
When a PLP Senator raised the conflict over Mr. Bacon’s boat basin and marina on the floor of the Chamber last year, two heavy weight Cabinet Ministers; the Attorney General and the Leader of Government Business sang like a choir in extolling why Mr. Bacon had to have been given retroactive approval for his unapproved construction. A well-established Attorney questions whether the approvals could be retroactive.
The Bacon honeymoon with the FNM Government did not end there.
The Bacon side has notched the heat up as they so desired. Torturous speed bumps were laid within a few yards of each other over the right of way to threaten vehicular damage and severe discomfort for folks on their way to Nygard Cay. Spy cameras were strategically set along the easement at driver and passenger levels as well as to record license plate numbers of Mr. Nygard’s guests. The Bacon people allegedly say that it was a security detail, but Mr. Nygard alleges it was an invasion of privacy and an act of intimidation.
The final straw for Nygard seems to be a deep well drainage along the southern side of the roadway, just ten (10) feet away from the gate of Nygard Cay which, with Bacon’s recent illegal realignment and grading of the roadway has caused huge pool of long-standing water to settle in the front of the gate when there is little rain, creating inconvenience and unbearable smells that did not exist previously. And for that still patient enough to endure all that and make it to Nygard Cay, Mr. Bacon then set up several hi tech sophisticated ultra sound acoustic amplifiers aimed at the Nygard compound and blasted ear splitting techno music around the clock at the Fashion mogul.
Bacon is said by those in Nygard’s camp to be the mastermind behind the use of a controversial battery of Attorneys along with local and international operatives led by Attorney Pericles Maillis who was subject of the 1984 Royal Commission of Inquiry into the illicit drug trade in The Bahamas.
And then providing the heavy hand or muscle at the Bacon compound is controversial former policemen Bradley Pratt along with Jerry Forester, a former FBI Agent who has hung around the Bahamas for more years than the authorities can honestly explain.
Pratt has the singular distinction while serving as a Detective in The Bahamas Criminal Investigation Department to have had more than seventy-five per cent of the cases in which he was involved in, dismissed against the defendants because a Supreme Court Judge found severe police brutality compromised the Attorney General’s cases.
And then Pratt was charged with manslaughter of the 1989 unlawful killing of Richard Culmer of Tarpum Bay, Lutheran who was beaten to death by Pratt while in Pratt’s custody. A jury found him guilty. He was sentenced to a 15 years in prison. After about a year in jail serving his sentence, the Court of Appeal over-turned Pratt’s manslaughter conviction and set aside his sentence. Now he is back on the streets reportedly working as a team with Jerry Forrester for Louis Bacon and the LCPOA against Nygard.
Although the Court of Appeal did not order a retrial of the charge of manslaughter against Pratt in relation to the killing of Culmer, it did not proclaim Pratt’s innocence. The Court cited the passage of time along with the certain evidential technicalities as its reason for not ordering a retrial which would normally have been done.
It is against these forces that Mr. Nygard now comes to the Bahamian Court to seek relief and damages for what he considers to have been an evil plot designed to wipe out his empire.