Dental Death Doctor’s home in contract for $8.3M

Property sparked a spat between Town, Luxor over exclusive listing
By Hiten Samtani | February 18, 2013 09:45AM

An Upper West Side brownstone owned by Richard Kaul, also known as the “Dental Death Doctor,” has gone into contract for $8.3 million, after a dispute between Town Residential and Luxor Homes Investment Realty over which brokerage had the exclusive listing, The Real Deal has learned.

Kaul — who was given his “Dental Death Doctor” moniker by the BBC in 2001 after he accidentally killed a patient during a tooth extraction — purchased the seven-story, four-bedroom, five-bathroom Queen Anne-style house, located at 69 West 83rd Street between Columbus Avenue and Central Park, for $3.6 million in 2005.

Though Kaul had initially listed the home for $14 million with Douglas Elliman in September 2009 — and had subsequently taken it on and off the market at different prices — the most recent ask was $8.9 million, shows.

The property went into contract on Feb. 2 to a London-based investment banker, who was represented by the husband-and-wife team of Michael and Dina Sussilleaux of the Corcoran Group — but not before Kaul set off a spat between brokers at Luxor and Town over who had the listing at the time, according to sources and emails reviewed by The Real Deal.

Luxor’s president Gordon Sokich secured the exclusive listing in February 2012; it was set to expire on Feb. 22 of this year.

However, on Jan. 8, Town agent Michelle Bourgeois notified Sokich that her firm had an exclusive listing on the property and asked him to remove Luxor’s listing, the emails show. Several days later, Town’s managing director Wendy Maitland followed up with another email informing Sokich of the same.

According to Sokich, Town brokers ignored numerous requests to show him the signed exclusive for the property. Sokich asked Maitland to cease any selling activity on the listing, according to the emails, but Maitland continued to actively seek out buyers and tried to persuade Kaul to drop Luxor, Sokich alleges.

Michael Sussilleaux said that he and Dina got in touch with Sokich after seeing that the property was listed with Luxor. “We put in an offer, had talks, got it accepted. Things were going along,” Sussilleaux said. “We subsequently found it was now listed as active with Town. Their take was that Gordon didn’t have a right to show the house.”

For her part, Maitland insisted there was no dispute. “We had a signed exclusive agreement with the owner who sought Town out,” she said. “Town is always looking to be a collaborative, respectful and respected member of the brokerage community.”

Indeed, correspondence between Kaul and Luxor suggests that the seller was involved in talks with Town. “He doesn’t know the rules, he’s under duress and stress,” Sokich said, referring to Kaul’s recent troubles with the New Jersey State Medical Board, which suspended his medical license for performing spinal surgery without the proper training.

The emails confirm that Luxor represented Kaul on the deal; however, Sokich alleges that Town, in what he referred to as a “scumbag move,” continued to actively solicit buyers and tried to persuade Kaul to renege on his deal with Luxor. Town also held an open house four days after the contract was signed, Sokich said.

“I don’t know what they were thinking when I have something in contract,” Sokich told The Real Deal. “It’s a classic ‘David vs. Goliath’ situation.”

In a Feb. 12 email, Kaul asked Bourgeois to take down the Town listing. “Please remove sign outside by 2/13/13 12pm,” the email said. Bourgeois was still actively marketing the property until then, the email shows. Town’s listing was removed from Streeteasy on Feb. 13.

Sokich said he was considering legal action against Town for tortious interference. “It is our intention to seek legal counsel and review the facts for legal action,” said Ademola Diji, Luxor’s director of compliance.

With a property of this magnitude, Sussileaux said, it was essential to understand the specific parts that everyone was playing. “This could have been a very costly mistake for everyone involved,” he said. “As brokers it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.” In an effort to get the best deal, he added, the seller had risked being liable for multiple commissions.

Kaul was not immediately available for comment.

The home boasts a soundproof media room, three terraces, a master chef’s kitchen, and nine wood-burning and gas fireplaces.