File image of J Arthur Brown. Photo: Candice Chaplin.
Cape Town - A decade ago, fraudster J Arthur Brown bought the Santé Hotel and Spa for R117 million and in Thursday it went under the hammer, and sold for R39.1 million.
The property in Paarl was auctioned, with the hotel, sectional title housing area and four villas being auctioned off separately.
The hotel belonged to the former Fidentia boss who was found guilty of two counts of fraud in 2014 relating to misrepresentations he made in handling investments for the Transport Education and Training Authority as well as during Fidentia’s takeover of the Mantadia Asset Trust Company, later renamed the Living Hands Umbrella Trust.
More than 50 000 widows and orphans were left destitute when the death benefits of their loved ones vanished after the company collapsed.
The hotel, conference centre and spa fetched R25.1 million, with the Bayonne spa suite going for R2.6 million, the Tierkloof villa for R4.6 million, the Drakenstein villa R4.1 million and the last villa, the Haumann villa, R2.7 million.
The money made from the sale of the controversial property will go to the beneficiaries of trusts set up to cater for the widows and orphans swindled out of their money.
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Trust co-curator John Levin said he was relieved the process was over and was looking forward to paying the money out to the beneficiaries.
“The turnout was wonderful and I am delighted that after 10 years we can sell and close this curatorship, give people their money and bring this tragedy to an end.”
With the hotel selling for a fraction of what Brown had paid for it, Levin said Brown had a “habit of overpaying” and they were fortunate to get the amount they did.
Auctioneers ClareMart CE Jonathan Smiedt said, when all the taxes and VAT were added, the trusts would recover around R42 million.
“We hope the person who bought it unlocks the property’s true value because there is a tremendous surge in the Winelands and we want a venue like this to be an international venue.”