Receivers have taken over Anita's Theatre at Thirroul, the pride and joy of prominent Wollongong developer John Comelli.Mr Comelli sold millions of dollars worth of other properties in a bid to hold onto his sentimental favourite before reluctantly putting it on the market 12 months ago.Now it has been handed over to receivers PPB Advisory to recoup some of a swag of debts totalling an estimated $17 million.A subdued Mr Comelli said he was "a victim of the global recession"."Properties I've had for years that were worth a lot of money all of a sudden were worthless," he said."There's dozens of developers in Wollongong who are in the same boat. I'm not the only one."The shops in the theatre were sold for less than $500,000," he said. "They cost over a million apiece to build."Receiver Mark Robinson said upcoming performances by John Butler Trio (May 11) and by Tarrawanna songstress Rachel Bate (May 21) would go ahead but that future acts would depend on how the sale progressed."We would suspect in about four to six weeks time it would be taken to the market for sale," he said, either via expression of interest campaign or at auction.Mr Robinson would not speculate on the likely sale price but said "we're very impressed with the quality of the refurbishment undertaken and ... hope there's a high level of interest in taking it on [as a] theatre".The 900-seat theatre was owned by Lyncove Pty Ltd, with Mr Comelli as director.It was one of 15 lots within the Lawrence Hargrave Dr site.The theatre was opened in March 2007 in honour of Mr Comelli's late wife, who died of cancer in December 2005, aged 64.Mr Comelli poured $6 million alone into its ornate fit-out, and admitted that running costs had exceeded his expectations.He later sold off 14 lots as well as his family home and business headquarters of 45 years, but in January 2008 told the Mercury he wanted to hold on to the theatre as his family's legacy.In mid-2008, he offered it to Wollongong City Council and the University of Wollongong for $4 million - about half-price, he said - on the condition it be retained as a theatre.It was put on the market in April last year.Mr Comelli said ANZ Bank had appointed receivers on April 18 to recoup some of $16-17 million in debt.Mr Comelli is living in the Corrimal home of his late brother Paul, who passed away on April 5.He said he would have to sell that property as well.