Icon fights lawsuit over Judith Rothschild home

Court forces firm's founders and their fathers to produce documents related to reneged contract

TRD New York /
Apr.April 10, 2012 06:30 PM

Faced with pending litigation related to a 2007 contract on abstract painter Judith Rothschild’s former mansion at 1110 Park Avenue, the founders of Icon Realty Management, Todd Cohen and Terrence Lowenberg, and their fathers, have been forced to produce documentation proving they have not been shifting assets in an effort to avoid paying a $2.5 million judgment issued against them in 2009.

When Rothschild’s former home was bought by Toll Brothers of Horsham, Pa. last month, little did most market watchers know it wasn’t the first time there’d been a contract on the building in recent years. Icon, a New York-based real estate investment and operating firm headed by the two 30-something execs, went into contract on the building, once the home of the abstract painter and philanthropist Judith Rothschild, in 2007 but later backed out of the agreement, according to a lawsuit pending in State Supreme Court and updated today.

Icon entered into a contract to buy the historic building for $17 million, according to the filing, and submitted a down payment of $1.7 million for the place. Cohen and Lowenberg allegedly stated at the time of writing the check that they did not currently have the funds to cover the purchase but that the capital would be provided by their respective fathers, who were away for the weekend.

Withdrawing from the agreement three days after the check was signed, the pair alleged that they had been unable to secure the purchase of an adjacent building, according to the filing. They were buying the second building, they said, to clear the site and make room for a larger development. The Rothschild Foundation countered that the pair were making excuses after their parents had declined to fund the purchase.

The Judith Rothschild foundation is suing, their attorney Neal Schwartzfeld told The Real Deal, because they allege that Icon founders and their parents have been shifting capital into the names of other entities and LLCs in an effort to avoid paying the judgment. Icon allegedly transferred its assets from the Icon Group LLC to two other LLCs named Icon Realty Management and Icon Development and Construction. The defendants now have 30 days to produce documents proving that’s not the case, according to the court filing.

Icon declined to comment on the suit.

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