The Real Deal New York

Jack Sitt sues brother and demands a look at Sitt Asset’s books

Suit claims Ralph Sitt shorted the former executive out of firm's profits
By Kyna Doles and Claire Moses | November 19, 2014 03:03PM

UPDATED, 3:30 p.m., November 19: Jack Sitt, a former principal at Sitt Asset Management, is suing the company and his brother Ralph Sitt, alleging that he was deprived of millions of dollars in distributions and commission and subjected to a “long series of abuses.” 

As a member of the Sitt family and a former executive at the company, Jack claims in the lawsuit — filed in New York Supreme State Court on Tuesday — that he is entitled to an equal share of Sitt Asset’s profits. He claims that each family member had a 20 percent stake in the enterprise.

Jack is suing “after a long series of abuses by his brother,” the lawsuit states. Ralph “usurped control” and has “frozen out” his brother, the suit alleges.

Adam Leitman Bailey, Ralph Sitt’s and Sitt Asset Management’s attorney on the case, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “without merit.”

Midtown Manhattan-based Sitt Asset Management is a family-owned firm with a portfolio that includes office buildings, strip malls as well as residential developments.

Earlier this month, Jack formally requested to inspect the company’s records and demanded a response from Sitt Asset Management by or before November 13. After the company’s leaders — brothers Eddie, Ralph and David Sitt — didn’t get back to him, Jack was left with “no alternative” but to sue, according to court documents.

Bailey said that he has in fact provided Jack’s attorney and accountant with access to thousands of files for several months. “He’s gotten everything he asked for,” Bailey said. As far as the commission and distribution goes, the attorney added, “he had abandoned the business during that time.”

Jack claims that he is entitled to part of a $4 million profit from 450 Broadway, which Sitt Asset bought for $11 million in 2012 and leased out for $15 million the following year. Jack claims that he wasn’t made aware of the purchase, which was done partially with money in which he claimed to have interest. Ralph used the profits to help him acquire seven buildings for his own portfolio, the suit states. The suit further alleges that Jack had a stake and is entitled to part of the profits from the sales of 240 West 40th Street and 414 West 14th Street. Jack also claims he was entitled to a $1 million share from the sale of 1370 Broadway in 2011.

Jack, who founded his own firm Jack Sitt Real Estate LLC in 2012, is seeking to inspect Sitt Asset’s books and records dating back to 2006. “Mr. Sitt is entitled to know what has happened to his family’s businesses and his stake in them,” the suit states, adding that Jack wants to be in a position to “hold Ralph Sitt accountable for any injuries caused by the latter’s usurpation of the affairs of Sitt Asset Management and other family businesses.”

“I feel bad for him,” Bailey said. “He’s a desperate man who needs money to live a lifestyle he cannot afford.”