The Real Deal New York

Arnold Penner’s son drops “hoodwinking” claims against him

In a motion tied 250 Church deal, Arnold said Jonathan was "far from a babe in the woods"

April 24, 2015 03:46PM
By Tess Hofmann

250 Church Street in Tribeca (inset: Arnold Penner)

Jonathan Penner has dropped a dramatic lawsuit accusing his father, real estate investor Arnold Penner, of hoodwinking him out of a lucrative investment in a Tribeca office building. For his part, Arnold pooh-pooed his son’s allegations and said Jonathan should have “engaged in some simple math before filing the complaint.”

In February, Jonathan filed a $54 million suit in which he alleged that Arnold intentionally misguided him into selling his 32.5 interest in a 15-story building at 250 Church Street, for the measly sum of $300,000. He accused his father of “familial treachery, fraud and overweening greed.”

As recently as April 1, Arnold was actively trying to get the suit booted from court, arguing that his son’s take on the events was far off base, and that Jonathan is an experienced investor who should have known better than to file such a meritless complaint.

“Plaintiff was far from a babe in the woods duped by his savvy father,” Arnold’s motion states.

Whereas Jonathan’s complaint implied that his father and another investor, Philip Pilevsky of Philips International, owned 250 Church Street, Arnold claims that they have never owned more than 5 percent of the 202,000-square-foot property, placing Jonathan’s interest at only 1.6 percent.

“Had he merely glanced at these public records and engaged in some simple math before filing the complaint, it is unlikely that plaintiff would have commenced this action,” reads Arnold’s motion.

Arnold also said that Jonathan never owned a membership interest in the property, but only a nominal interest, which did not entitle him to any personal profit.

Jonathan claimed he was owed $27 million because that was the sum of mortgages that his father took out after allegedly duping him out of his share of the property. However, Arnold seems perplexed as to how his obtaining a mortgage could have damaged his son, since the mortgage is debt and not profit.

“Any implication that the loaned funds were obtained by the property owners to line their own pockets presupposes that loaned funds are the equivalent of profits which, of course, they are not,” the motion states. “Since plaintiff cannot rationally be asking this court to award him debt, it appears that what he actually seeks to recover is what he erroneously believes were his lost ‘profits.’”

Moreover, Arnold alleges that Jonathan misinterpreted mortgage documents to reach a total of $27 million, though the two mortgages added up to only $20 million.

Jonathan looks to have decided to drop his suit, though it is unclear whether the parties settled out of court. Counsel for both sides did not immediately respond to requests for comment.