TAMPA — Only when your previous home is the size of an English castle could your new 3,545-square-foot residence be considered "small.''
That's how a lawyer for former coin dealer Mark Yaffe recently described the luxurious Harbour Island townhome that Yaffe has rented since a bank foreclosed on his 29,000-square-foot Avila estate.
"What, do you want me to live in a trailer in the ghetto?'' Yaffe said Monday when asked about his new digs.
Yaffe's National Gold Exchange, once one of the world's largest precious coin dealers, went bankrupt in 2009 with $36 million in debts. One creditor, Sovereign Bank, alleged to the bankruptcy court that Yaffe had skimmed $10 million out of the company to build his 10-bedroom, 13-bath home modeled after a 17th century royal palace.
Yaffe, in a brief phone interview Monday, denied he had done anything wrong.
"Did I steal money? No. Did I take a salary? Yes. They (the bank) withdrew that allegation'' of skimming.
Daniel Stermer, a lawyer for the bankruptcy trustee, said "there had been questions raised'' about how National Gold Exchange spent its money. Those allegations, however, "were resolved without (Yaffe) admitting or denying the veracity,'' Stermer said.
Bank of America foreclosed on the Avila mansion in 2013 and sold it in November for $5.58 million, a 78 percent plunge from its $25 million original asking price.
Yaffe confirmed that the buyer, as had been rumored, is Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, a member of the family that owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kassewitz, who has a $20 million home in Palm Beach, could not be reached for comment. It is not known if the Avila estate was purchased as an investment or as a future homestead.
Meanwhile, Yaffe and his family are now living in the townhome on Harbour Island, a gated community close to downtown Tampa. Built in 2000, the home has marble floors and opens to "a waterfront pool and heated spa, stepping down to (a) concrete floating boat slip,'' according to the listing when it last sold four years ago for just shy of $1.3 million
Early last year, it hit the market as a $6,500-a-month rental.
Yaffe, 55, also has a new company, coinfo.com, described on its website as "America's leading coin and precious metals site.''
"All it does is sell information; it has prices for coins,'' said Yaffe, who said he is co-owner with an out-of-state partner. "It doesn't buy or sell anything except advertising space.''
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727)-893-8642. Follow @susanskate.