The Dakota apartment formerly owned by hedge fund manager Alphonse “Buddy” Fletcher is being sold for $9.15 million, and the legendary co-op says it has priority to the sale proceeds over other creditors including Kasowitz Benson Torres.
According to February court papers, a receiver negotiated the sale of the apartment to Evan Greenberg, CEO of insurance giant Chubb Corp., and his wife, Sascha Greenberg.
The Dakota apartment was ordered to go on sale to pay Fletcher’s creditors, which include The Dakota itself and Fletcher’s former attorneys at Kasowitz Benson, among others. The sale was triggered when Kasowitz Benson sued Fletcher in Manhattan Supreme Court, seeking to compel the sale of Fletcher’s stock in The Dakota and the lease to recoup legal fees.
The seven-room unit went on the market in 2016 for $12 million, after a judge appointed a receiver, Jeffrey Goldman, a partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman. The locks were changed and Fletcher’s personal items were removed from The Dakota, the legendary onetime home of John Lennon before he was murdered in front of the building, and where exteriors to “Rosemary’s Baby” were filmed.
In court papers filed May 11, The Dakota said the apartment is now under contract for sale for $9.15 million, and the co-op anticipates the sale to close before an upcoming hearing in the case. (A separate studio apartment that had been listed for $1 million and was also owned by Fletcher has not been sold, according to court papers.)
The Dakota said the proceeds of the apartment, after brokerage fees and other expenses at closing, will be about $8.7 million.
The Dakota is seeking about $3.67 million from the proceeds for what it says are unpaid debts and obligations from Fletcher, including for unpaid maintenance expenses, share costs, real estate taxes, and a judgment for legal fees from the unsuccessful discrimination case that Fletcher brought against The Dakota. The Manhattan co-op, at 1 W. 72nd St., has previously said it was billed millions of dollars by law firms, including Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, after litigating with Fletcher over his discrimination claims.
The Kasowitz firm, meanwhile, has already obtained a court judgment against Fletcher for about $2.75 million in unpaid legal fees from the discrimination case, according to court filings.
JPMorgan Chase also has a lien against Fletcher arising out of two loans totaling more than $11.1 million that are now in default, according to court filings.
Another group of creditors—an investor and four funds formerly managed by Fletcher and his company, Fletcher Asset Management—has also sought a portion of The Dakota proceeds. The funds have accused Fletcher of fraud and gross negligence. They said they have obtained an order of attachment on Fletcher’s property.
Finally, the IRS has a lien against Fletcher for $1.33 million in unpaid taxes.
In a stipulation in February, the parties, as well as the IRS and the receiver, agreed that the creditor liens against the apartment would be transferred to the proceeds of the sale.
But The Dakota, in May 11 court papers, said its lien has priority over others, including those of the bank, Kasowitz Benson and the investment funds.
So far, the parties have deferred resolution on the priority of liens. “Disputes on these matters are now ripe and need resolution by this court,” said John Van Der Tuin, The Dakota’s attorney and a partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, in court papers. “Dakota’s lien should be paid in full from the proceeds of sale.”
In an interview on Monday, Van Der Tuin said he hopes there won’t be a dispute over the sale proceeds, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were.”
“There are more creditors and claims that there are proceeds of sale,” he said. “I’m just pleased that there’s finally been a successful sale of the apartment and we’re going to be able to bring this proceeding to a close” after nearly three years of litigation.
JPMorgan’s attorney, Mitchell S. Kurtz, an associate at PIB Law, declined to comment, as did a broker for the apartment, John Burger of Brown Harris Stevens. A Kasowitz Benson spokeswoman did not return a message seeking comment. Nor did an attorney at Reid Collins & Tsai who represents the investment funds.