Notorious club under hammer

13 May 2010 - 00:37 By BOBBY JORDAN

It's billed as the underworld auction of the century.

A notorious nightclub with en-suite bedrooms, a swanky apartment block that used to be a drug den, and a 1971 Rolls-Royce fit for a porno boss, all go under the hammer in Cape Town later this month following a High Court ruling relating to two of Cape Town's most controversial figures - one of them deceased.

The assets were part of a shared business empire belonging to controversial businessman Mark Lifman and the late Yuri "The Russian" Ulianitskaya, who was assassinated in a hail of bullets three years ago while leaving a Cape Town restaurant.

Ulianitskaya's widow, Irina, last month won a court challenge for a share of her slain husband's estate, prompting the appointment of liquidators who will auction their shared business interests.

The proceeds will be divided up between Ulianitskaya and Lifman.

Although not much is known of Yuri's business dealings prior to his death, details of the assets under auction are a view into the often colourful world of nightclub entertainment.

The 206m² three-storey Embassy nightclub building offers "receptions rooms with bathrooms" and marble restrooms, according to the auction details released yesterday. "The second floor comprises a fully tiled staff locker room, a large storeroom and a shower. The third floor comprises nine luxury en suite bedrooms," the briefing said.

Also under the hammer are two upmarket apartments in a previously sleazy Sea Point building, the El Rio, later redeveloped by Lifman and Ulianitskaya in one of several joint ventures which came under scrutiny in court.

Lifman, who was banned for life from horse racing in 2001 after he and Ulianitskaya were implicated in an alleged assault on a jockey who refused to throw a race, also recently faced charges of paedophilia in a case involving young boys. Lifman was acquitted of all charges in September last year.

The Embassy in popular Castle Street in central Cape Town was frequented by some of the city's adventurous nightclubbers. Mirrors, bedrooms, and bathroom facilities ensured a steady through-flow of pleasure-seekers.

Ironically it will be auctioned off at the Mount Nelson Hotel, better-known for its crumpets than crumpet.

Auctioneer Jonathan Smiedt from the ClareMart Auction Group said he would treat the auction like any other: "The Embassy is a nightclub, but obviously we must treat it as a property. Investors will look at rentals. That particular property has investment potential."