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Police: Popular US designer found dead in Bahamas

The Associated Press, Sunday, June 13, 2010, 11:33am (PDT)

NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) -- A South Florida interior designer whose elegant creations were popular with movie stars, models and fashion icons was found dead in an exclusive area of the Bahamas, authorities said Sunday.

J. Wallace Tutt III was the owner of the boutique Rock House hotel on Harbour Island, an exclusive area known for its 3-mile (2-kilometer) pink-sand beach. He was found Saturday morning in a grassy area of the island known as "The Narrows," said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.

The cause of death has not been determined, the official said.

Tutt 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.

Tutt moved to a private retreat near Harbour Island in 2002, where he transformed an old home into a nine-room luxury hotel.

Rock House staff declined to speak to reporters about Tutt's death, but said the hotel would be closed for a week.

Alvin Smith, a local parliamentarian who is the Bahamian House's speaker, said he was shocked by Tutt's death because he "seemed to be young and energetic."

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