The man at the center of a New York City Police Department corruption scandal reportedly sabotaged efforts to sell units at the Apthorp by wasting a marketing budget and selling condos to friends, according to a report.
Jona Rechnitz, an alumnus of Africa Israel and head of JSR Capital, blew through a $20 million marketing budget and sold four units at deep discounts to friends and family members at the troubled Upper West Side building, the New York Post reported.
Rechnitz is a key figure in a federal investigation in an NYPD pay-to-play scandal, in which he allegedly provided gifts and trips to officers — including a flight with a prostitute to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. That investigation is part of a larger investigation into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fundraising activities. Rechnitz donated $50,000 to the mayor’s now-defunct Campaign for One New York.
Maurice Mann, another investor, had failed to turn a profit and had run into financial disputes with Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel, which bought a 50 percent stake in the Apthorp, at 2211 Broadway. The building was converted to condos in 2008.
Rechnitz, who Post sources said was a low-on-the-totem-pole assistant, was tapped to sell the units for Leviev, with a $20 million budget to market the units. He spent the budget on extravagant advertisements, including one where he flew a plane full of male models to Europe for a cheesy ad, but had little success in actually unloading the units, the newspaper reported.
An investor in the property eventually brought on Dolly Lenz (then of Douglas Elliman) to help sell the condos, but Rechnitz took four of the units and sold them well below market rate, Lenz told the Post. He sold one of the penthouses to “Real Housewives of New York” cast member Julianne Wainstein for $217,998. The unit was worth $2 million at the time.