Brooklyn man claims he is rightful owner of Slave Theater

Industrie Capital bought the iconic Bed-Stuy property for $19M in November
December 29, 2015 03:10PM

As developer Industrie Capital prepares to demolish the iconic Slave Theater, a Brooklyn man continues to claim that the Bedford-Stuyvesant theater actually belongs to him.

Clarence Hardy, 81, has been arrested six times for allegedly trespassing at the Fulton Street theater, which he claims to own, the New York Times reported. Industrie Capital’s Eli and Joseph Hamway bought the theater in November for $18.5 million.

Hardy believes the theater was wrongfully taken from him a few years ago. Judge John L. Phillips bought the theater in 1984, changing its name from Regal to the Slave Theater. In 1999, Phillips transferred two theaters — the Slave and the Black Lady, over to a real estate company affiliated with Hardy.

But two years later, a judge declared Phillips mentally incompetent, and he was placed in a guardianship. Rev. Samuel Boykin, who became the executor of Phillips’ estate when he died in 2008, successfully argued against Hardy’s claim to the two theaters, and a Surrogate’s Court judge ruled that Phillips was not in the right state of mind when he transferred the properties to Hardy.

The theater was then sold to Brooklyn-based investor Yosef Ariel in 2014. The Hamways bought the theater in November, and they are still determining what they will build at the site. [NYT] Kathryn Brenzel