The Real Deal New York

Model agency founder and broker Paolo Zampolli sues Massey Knakal, others for $200K in commissions

March 16, 2010 09:12PM
By Adam Pincus

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Paramount’s Paolo Zampolli (l)and Paul Massey of Massey Knakal

The Italian-born founder of model agency ID Model Management and a regular in the Post’s Page Six column, Paolo Zampolli, filed suit in New York State Supreme Court today claiming he was cheated out of more than $200,000 in commissions after he introduced a buyer for the property at 31 Bond Street in Noho and was not listed as a broker on the sale.

Zampolli, a licensed salesperson with Paramount Realty Group of America, claims in the suit that he was the procuring broker that brought his client, an Italian named Cristina Calori, to buy the property at 31 Bond. The seller, a Japanese corporation called Heian Bunka Center, which owns the six-story mixed-use building, was represented by Massey Knakal Realty Services.

Calori ended up going into contract on the property, with an asking price of $8.5 million, but not listing Zampolli as the broker. The sale is expected to close soon, the suit says.

Zampolli, through Paramount, is suing Calori; her company Monster Real Estate; Massey Knakal; and Heian Bunka Center for a total of $212,500, which represents half of a 5 percent commission, on allegations including breach of contract and interfering with contracts.

Zampolli rejected the assessment by several brokers that he needed a written contract with Calori — which he did not have — to prevail.

“That is nonsense. [Brokers holding such a view] are amateurs. We will have a judge rule on the legality of this case. That is why we went to Supreme Court,” he said.

It was Zampolli’s second lawsuit filed in three weeks. He sued his residential landlords at 50 Gramercy Park North for $52,000 in February, claiming his apartment, where he currently resides, was not ready in time for his move in set for June 2009. That case is ongoing.

“Massey Knakal’s and Calori’s deceitful actions have prevented Zampolli from carrying out the contract with Calori,” the suit says.

Paul Massey, CEO of Massey Knakal, said he had not seen the suit and therefore had no comment. Calori could not immediately be reached for comment.

Several brokers, on hearing the basic claims of the action, said Zampolli’s case appeared weak, because it did not involve a written contract between the broker and the client.

Ivan Hakimian, associate broker at Itzhaki Properties, said it was rare to have a signed contract in Manhattan between a buyer’s broker and a buyer. He said if the broker is performing a good service, the buyer will keep them on.

“[The buyer] wants to make the deal with you because you come through for them,” he said.

Adelaide Polsinelli, associate vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services, said regardless of the legal merits, it raised valid moral issues.

“There is a code of ethics that should be followed,” she said. “The buyer’s broker should be entitled to something.”

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