NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — J. Wallace Tutt III, a South Florida interior designer whose elegant creations were popular with movie stars, models and fashion icons, was found dead in the Bahamas, authorities said Sunday, June 13. He was 53.
The cause of Tutt's death has not been determined, police said. He is best known for transforming the Miami mansion of the late Italian designer Gianni Versace into a South Beach icon. He also designed homes for Cher and had celebrity friends including Jack Nicholson and model Elle McPherson.
He was found the morning of Saturday, June 12, in a grassy area of exclusive Harbour Island known as The Narrows, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media.
The official said there were no signs of violence on the body and detectives are looking into the possibility drugs contributed to his death.
A team of detectives from New Providence, the most populated island in the vast archipelago of the Bahamas, traveled to Harbour Island to assist with the investigation. The body has been flown to New Providence, where an autopsy was to be performed.
Tutt moved to a private retreat near Harbour Island in 2002, where he transformed an old home into a nine-room luxury boutique hotel called the Rock House hotel. Harbour Island is known for its 3-mile pink-sand beach.
Rock House staff declined to speak to reporters about Tutt's death but said the hotel would be closed for a week.
Alvin Smith, speaker of the Bahamas' lower House of Parliament, said he was shocked by the death of the still youthful and energetic designer.