Architect, contractors claim Donny Deutsch stiffed them for townhouse work

The ad guru also faces Sotheby’s lawsuit

TRD New York /
May.May 16, 2012 02:30 PM

Advertising guru and television personality Donny Deutsch is facing a barrage of claims that he stiffed the contractors and architects who helped design his Upper East Side townhouse. Frederic Schwartz, the architect tapped by Deutsch to transform his 6 East 78th Street townhouse into a contemporary palace in 2010, claims he was never paid the $1.79 million he’s owed for the work. Schwartz this week filed to extend a mechanic’s Lien Against The Property First Granted By The Supreme Court of New York last year.

Deutsch bought the home, located between Fifth and Madison avenues, for $21 million in 2006. Then he began a $20-million renovation, demolishing everything but the property’s landmarked limestone façade.

Deutsch “wanted it to be sophisticated, spectacular, and over-the-top,” Schwartz, who oversaw the project, told Architectural Digest in 2010.

For example, Schwartz said, the back wall of the house is made almost entirely of glass, to help capture as much natural light as possible. The redesign prompted famed television journalist Matt Lauer to dub the property “the coolest apartment in New York.”

Schwartz now claims that he was never paid at the rate agreed upon by both parties for his services, according to court documents. Neither he nor Deutsch were immediately available for comment.

Schwartz is not the first service provider to file a lien against the home. Architectural renderer Andrew Hickes filed a lien against the property in 2010, claiming that another architecture firm working on the house, Gabellini Sheppard Associates, failed to pay him after commissioning and then not using his renderings. Hickes told The Real Deal that he ultimately lost out on the money because he’d forgotten to renew a lien he filed against the property.

J.P. Hogan Coring & Sawing Corporation, a Staten Island-based contractor that did construction work on the house, also filed a lien against the property in 2010, claiming it was owed $40,250 for its work. The corporation was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, Deutsch is facing a lawsuit from Sotheby’s International Realty in relation to the 2010 sale of his oceanfront Hamptons property to Oaktree Capital CEO Howard Marks. In a lawsuit filed last year, Sotheby’s claims it found the buyer in the $30 million deal and is owed $1.8 million in commission. Deutsch denies that the brokerage’s actions were the “procuring cause of the sale,” according to court documents. The case is ongoing.

The Sotheby’s agent involved in the case, John Hicking, was not immediately available for comment.

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