The historic Rexmere hotel building at 159 Main St. in Stamford burned today in a fire that more than 100 firefighters battled this afternoon - just weeks before it was to be sold to an artist who wanted to restore it.
No injuries were reported.
The Rexmere had been listed for sale with the asking price of $599,000 and a deal was in the works with a would-be purchaser involved in the art world, said Ray Puccci of Coldwell banker Timberland Properties in Delhi.
The cause of the late morning blaze was not immediately known, and fire investigators are expected to return to the scene Wednesday.
Local officials confirmed the prospective buyer was Hunt Slonem, a renowned Neo-Expressionist artist and collector of Victorian antiques who has rehabilitated several historic properties, including two former plantations in Louisiana.
Contacted by The Daily Star at his Manhattan studio, Slonem said, "I was going to make this project my lifetime. I'm really just too devastated right now to speak about it."
According to a web site chronicling the art world, Slonem, 62, is "best known for huge Neo-Expressionist oil paintings of tropical birds based on his personal aviary. His lavishly colored canvases are populated with rows of birds rendered with thick brushstrokes." His work is featured in many museums throughout the world, the web site noted.
Pucci said the scheduled real estate closing on the property was only weeks away.
"The Rexmere was the Queen of the Catskills at one time," said Pucci, whose company had the listing. "The loss of the Rexmere is one less tie to our past. It's sad that part of our local history is gone. We are advocates for our region and this makes us heart sick. We're disappointed on many different levels."