Even as real estate developer Donald Trump is testing the waters for a presidential run, he is not about to go soft and let a high-powered money manager wiggle out of a luxury penthouse apartment lease.
Trump is claiming in a new lawsuit that hedge fund investor Douglas Teitelbaum skipped out after signing a lease last year to move in to advertising executive Donny Deutsch’s former rental unit PH23 in Trump Park Avenue at 502 Park Avenue.
Trump Park Avenue LLC filed suit in New York State Supreme Court this past Friday, claiming Teitelbaum, for years a principal with Bay Harbour Management, signed a lease in April 2010 at $50,000 per month for the five-bedroom unit with 6,224 square feet. The lease called for him to move in Sept. 1 or after then current renter Deutsch was “ready to move out, and tenant can move in,” the suit says.
His lease appears to be a big discount from rent numbers cited in published reports, but the higher figures could not be confirmed.
Streeteasy.com says the unit was listed in March 2010 for $75,000 per month, and news reports from last December say Deutsch was paying $75,000 per month. But a Trump source said those figures were wildly inflated, and in fact Deutsch was paying about $50,000. Deutsch did not respond to a request to clarify, and the former director of sales and leasing for Trump Park Avenue, Jennine Gourin, now with Elliman, declined to comment.
Deutsch appears to have needed the flexibility of moving the vacate date because he was building out a townhouse at 6 East 78th Street. Deutsch was gone by Dec. 17, and in January, Trump notified Teitelbaum that he could move in on Feb. 1, and the keys would be waiting for him with the concierge, the court papers say.
But he never stopped by to pick up the keys and so in March, Trump canceled the lease. The suit is seeking $100,000 for February and March rent, as well as $1.1 million for the entire two-year lease term, plus legal fees.
But Trump, always keeping an eye on the bottom line was covering his bets, and in November gave the listing for both sale and leasing to Prudential Douglas Elliman brokers Victoria Shtainer and Lawrence Rich, even as the lease had not yet been terminated with Teitelbaum.
Trump in fact knew as early as November that Teitelbaum would not be taking the unit, citing personal reasons, Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen, said. Teitelbaum did not respond to requests for comment.
“Mr. Teitelbaum had advised the Trump Organization and Mr. Trump that he would not be in a position to take occupancy of the unit,” Cohen said.
Later that month, the unit was put on the rental market. Today it is listed for rent at $60,000 per month, and for sale at $25 million, according to the Elliman website.