Art heir hits back in billionaire row over townhouse sale

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  1. The Bobster Forum Veteran

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    http://nypost.com/2017/01/02/art-heir-hits-back-in-billionaire-row-over-townhouse-sale/

    Art heir hits back in billionaire row over townhouse sale
    By Rebecca Rosenberg
    January 2, 2017 | 4:05pm

    [IMG]
    David Wildenstein
    Patrick McMullan


    No signature, no sale.

    Art heir David Wildenstein says billionaire Len Blavatnik should have known better than to consider a verbal promise to sell him his family’s townhouse for $79 million legally binding, according to Manhattan court papers.

    Access Industries, one of Blavatnik’s companies, slapped Wildenstein with a $10 million suit for reneging on the deal they allegedly struck in a Oct. 6, 2016, phone call for the sale of the luxurious E. 64th Street townhouse.

    In Manhattan Supreme Court papers, Wildenstein’s lawyers argue that the “frivolous and hastily contrived” suit should be dismissed because a phone call can’t be considered a “binding agreement for a real estate transaction.”

    In addition, a week later, on Oct. 13, Wildenstein informed Blavatnik that “he was not authorized” to sell the 20,500 square foot property, designed by Gilded Age architect Horace Trumbauer, without co-op board approval.

    His lawyers argue that it is unreasonable for the “sophisticated and experienced real estate investor” to believe an agreement was reached when it was “never reduced to writing.”

    [IMG]
    The townhouse on E. 64th st.


    The attorneys also question Blavatnik’s claim that he was so intent on closing on the townhouse – assigning three executives to work around the clock on the project – that he lost out on two out-of-state real-estate deals worth $680 million.

    “That there were two desirable deals Plaintiff missed out on perhaps reveals poor staffing and organization,” wrote the lawyers in a dig at Blavatnik, 59, who famously bought the city’s most expensive co-op for $80 million two years ago.

    He wanted to use the townhouse, which the Wildenstein family once employed as an art gallery, for office space, sources said.

    Wildenstein, 36, later sold the stunning limestone building, with 20-foot ceilings, a weeping staircase and an 18-century salon imported from the home of a Parisian prince, to another buyer for $81 million.

    Blavatnik’s suit calls the Wildensteins “notorious” and says that “family members’ numerous personal peccadillos” have become “fodder for the tabloids.”

    David’s father, Guy Wildenstein, was the defendant in a $600 million tax fraud trial in Paris, France, and will learn his fate in that case next week.
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  2. The Bobster Forum Veteran

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    http://nypost.com/2017/03/01/judge-skewers-billionaire-for-alleged-real-estate-fraud/

    Judge skewers billionaire for alleged real-estate fraud
    By Julia Marsh
    March 1, 2017 | 10:57pm

    [IMG]
    David Wildenstein and Len Blavatnik
    Shutterstock; Getty Images


    A Manhattan judge skewered a billionaire music mogul in court Wednesday, calling the “extraordinarily sophisticated” businessman’s claim that he was defrauded in a $79 million town house deal “unbelievable” as she tossed out his lawsuit.

    Warner Music owner and “Hamilton” investor Len Blavatnik sued David Wildenstein last year, saying the heir to an art-dealing-dynasty tricked him into thinking he had an agreement to purchase the family’s East 64th Street building, then used the billionaire’s offer to get a higher price from another buyer.

    Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich reminded Blavatnik’s attorneys that New York law requires written contracts to enforce real-estate agreements.

    “Your extraordinarily sophisticated and well-heeled client… relied on an oral telephone conversation,” the judge said. “He clearly knows that is not sufficient for a deal.”

    Blavatnik’s attorney said he planned to appeal.

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