East meets West – Deep in the Florentine countryside, Castello di Sammezzano boasts the best of Arab, Indian, Persian and Spanish architectural designs. Initially, many mocked Ximenes' vision. Florence being the home of Renaissance art, they couldn't understand why anyone would look to the Orient for inspiration. He'd also never traveled to the Far East.
In search of a buyer – Determined to celebrate the magnificence of Moorish style, its 19th-century owner filled its 65-hectare garden with rare and exotic plants. Converted into a hotel in the 70s, the castle has fallen into disrepair over the last 20 years. In 2015, owners tried to auction the castle with a target price of $40.4 million; there were no bidders. It's currently for sale at $13.69 million but has so far failed to attract a single prospective buyer.
The Peacock Room – Looting has left it without running water or electricity. Locals fear the castle will eventually be lost to decay and in 2013 set up a voluntary committee of 50 members charged with saving Sammezzano. The Committee FPXA -- named after the castle's visionary owner -- is non-profit but holds group viewings around the castle's interiors six to eight days per year. So far 15,000 tourists have been through its doors.
The Lilies Room – The castle was eventually auctioned in 1999 to be renovated once again into a luxury resort, but plans never materialized.
Decadent past – Sammezzano isn't alone in its misfortunes. A volatile global economy has created an array of abandoned luxury hotels across the world.
Japan's lost hotels – Thoms created his series to highlight the hundreds of abandoned luxury hotels and abodes lying empty, forgotten and left to decay across Japan. The exhibition opens on December 8, 2016, taking place -- perhaps fittingly -- at Melbourne's five-star luxury Sofitel hotel.
'Hawaii' of Japan – Hachijo, an island once called the "Hawaii of Japan" is home to the Oriental Resort hotel. Desolate for over a decade, the hotel was closed in 2005 after failing to attract enough guests to warrant employing the staff needed to upkeep it.
Damp room, sea views – The Hachijo's stunning sea views can still be seen from crumbling rooms full of mold. Opened in 1963, the building's architecture emulated French baroque and initially catered to Japan's expanding middle class.
Last orders at the bar – Amid economic decline in the mid 1990s, clientele numbers began to dwindle. Despite several rebrands, the hotel never recovered.
Faded 1950s design – When it opened in 1957, the Fallside Inn had a pool, tennis courts, hot tubs, a conference center and ballroom. Today, peeling paint falls on the floor of its rooms. The retro telephone and wall hangings give an indication of its age.
Second chance – The Fallside is soon to be reborn. Work has begun by new owners to update the luxury hotel.
Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit – Abandoned by industry, Detroit's declining fortunes have been well documented. The Lee Plaza hotel -- its ballroom pictured here -- is among many buildings left to decay.
Lobby of hotel abandoned for 20 years, Germany – Richter grew up amongst the derelict landscape of the former German Democratic Republic. Inns were popular in East Germany -- all complete with a bar, a ballroom and theater -- but after reunionification with West Germany, people moved and they fell into disuse.
Staircase of vacant mansion, France – Richter's photo collection features more than 1,000 abandoned buildings across Germany, Poland, France and Italy.
Mansion vacant for 24 years, Italy – "I find beauty in decay, especially in abandoned hotels, castles and old mansions," says Richter. "Sad, but beautiful all the same." Even villas are transient, he adds.
Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique – Overlooking the Indian Ocean, Mozambique's Grande Hotel is home to around 3,500 squatters since shutting in 1963. Opened in 1954, "the pride of Africa" never attracted the amount of guests originally envisioned.