The former Miami club king Chris Paciello, who dated Madonna, and was indicted, convicted and served 10 years in prison is back in South Beach.
Paciello, now 40 and described by some who have run into him as “subdued and humbled,” is settling down at the Delano Hotel.
Ingrid Casares and Chris Paciello are back in business together with The Light Group at the Delano. This time as partners in the food and beverage operations at the Delano left recently vacant by Jeffrey Chodorow, who was bought out by the hotel’s owners, Morgans Hotel Group, for $20 million.
Gossip Extra is reporting Paciello is formulating a weeklong grand re-opening of the restaurants and lounges after the New Year. There’ll be a new Mediterranean eatery named Bianca, an outdoors fire-pit lounge and a downstairs club named Eleanor’s.
Through the mid- to late-‘90s, Paciello made millions for himself and others with clubs like Liquid and Barroom and Risk, which he stacked with the likes of pop stars Madonna and Prince, and supermodel Niki Taylor.
Casares has been out of the nightlife game for a while herself, focusing on raising her young son and working in her family’s window manufacturing business.
The this duo at the Delano will be a game changer, especially considering the already successful Florida Room. Throw in an arrangement with Las Vegas nightlife and restaurant heavies The Light Group.
A source close to Paciello who asked not to be identified said his employers are keeping him on a tight leash with things like a two-page morality clause.
Born Christian Ludwigsen in Brooklyn, New York on September 7, 1971, Chris Paciello is a convicted felon who was a Miami nightclub owner in the 1990s.
Paciello grew up in Borough Park, Brooklyn. When he was 16, his family moved to Staten Island. Three years later, he left home and changed his name to Chris Paciello (Paciello is the maiden name of his mother, Marguerite). The name change partly reflected a rejection of his father, who faced charges for burglary, auto theft, and attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance during the 1980s, and from whom Chris has been estranged ever since. Paciello‘s elder brother, George Ludwigsen, has been convicted and jailed for various, separate burglary charges.
Paciello became a prominent figure on the club scene in Miami in the 90′s, making millions from two night clubs and a restaurant.
In 1994, Paciello moved to Miami and opened a nightclub called Risk at the same venue as one previously owned by actor Mickey Rourke in November 1994. In April 1995, Risk burned to the ground under unusual circumstances two months after it opened.
Ingrid got involved in Paciello‘s businesses after Risk closed, and she is credited with creating the look and decor he used.
Paciello used the club’s insurance money to open a new place, Club Liquid in South Beach, bringing in Casares as co-partner. Liquid became a center of Miami’s South Beach nightlife in the 1990s.
Madonna, a friend of Casares, was a frequent guest. Chris became Madonna‘s “Boy-toy.” Madonna’s girlfriend, literally, Casares, reportedly even accompanied him to mob meetings, according to Gangland News.
He was linked romantically to Nikki Taylor, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, Daisy Fuentes and Sofia Vergara.
Paciello had connections to the Gambino crime family, and regularly committed robberies as teenager in Brooklyn. In December 1992, Paciello admitted to his involvement in a $300,000 bank robbery at a Chemical Bank in the Staten Island Mall.
In February 1993, a FBI investigation resulted in Paciello‘s arrest for being the getaway driver in a home invasion on Staten Island which he allegedly masterminded, in the course of which a Staten Island housewife, Judith Shemtov, was shot dead in her home by Thomas Reynolds.
On December 1, 1999, Paciello was charged with robbery and murder in New York. In October 2000, he pleaded guilty to murder and robbery and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was reduced to seven for his cooperating in mob-related investigations.At his release, Paciello spent three days in a witness protection program. But instead of waiting for a new identity, he walked away and moved to Los Angeles. Paciello successfully completed parole Sept. 8.
Paciello testified that after transplanting to Miami following a life of car thefts and bank rip-offs in the Northeast, he had the help of reputed Gambino crime family member Johnny Rizzo in starting his first nightclub, Risk, in November 1994.
In September 2006, Paciello was released after serving six years in prison and placed on parole. He later moved to Los Angeles, where he owned two Cristoni pizzerias, One in West Hollywood and the other in Beverly Hills, both now out of business. Paciello was arrested over a street fight in 2008, but no charges were filed.
Chris is currently living at the Delano next few months as he works to give back to the legendary beachside resort its No. 1 ranking among celebrities and their publicists, tabloid reporters, party crashers, bloggers, paparazzi, and plain ol’ party people.
For many, Miami Beach’s after-midnight glamour vanished the moment Paciello was handcuffed. Which is why he’s getting greeted back with hugs and kisses. “He’s a very bright, capable guy who has learned a great deal over the years,” said Al Malnik, owner of The Forge. “He’s going to bring back a lot of stars who wouldn’t otherwise be here.
A film called Kings of South Beach (2007) was made about his time in Florida. Another film, reportedly based on Paciello‘s life, was called Unmade Man.