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The ageing ruins of an abandoned mansion lie in decaying splendour in the midst of Parque Burle Marx, inviting visitors to guess at what scenes of scandal or glamour played out within. The disappointing truth is that the mansion was never even completed, let alone inhabited. Brazilian millionaire and playboy Baby Pignatari had the mansion built in the ’50s for his third wife, Austrian Princess Ira Von Fürstenberg – 24 years his junior – who had left her husband to marry Baby. Three years later, they were divorced in Las Vegas.
The mansion lives on, though. Concrete sculptures, fountains, imported imperial palms, and a two-tone checkered lawn characterise the beautiful gardens, designed by the world-renowned landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Trails lead away from the garden into the denser Atlantic forest, making it a great spot for joggers and a place to contemplate nature rather than hang out – bikes, balls and dogs are not allowed.