“Real Housewives of New York” star Julianne Wainstein’s estranged husband allegedly defrauded composer Jonathan Sheffer by renting out the reality star’s apartment at the Apthorp — and keeping all the money for himself, according to a new lawsuit.
Sheffer filed suit Wednesday claiming that Michael Wainstein “tricked” him into believing that he owned the apartment, which was in fact owned by his ex. Wainstein also drew up false contracts requiring that Sheffer pay rent directly to him and commissions to Nest Seekers International , which had no involvement in the deal, the suit alleges. Nest Seekers is also named as a defendant in the suit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court.
Neither Sheffer nor Wainstein immediately responded to requests for comment. A Nest Seekers representative was also not immediately available.
The alleged fraud happened last year when Sheffer sold his 5,200-square-foot Greenwich Village townhouse for $18.1 million and moved into the Apthorp at 2211 Broadway. He was “about to be the single father of newborn twins,” and was told by an Apthorp property manager that a small unit was available for rent in the building to house the kids’ nanny, according to the suit.
Wainstein, a principal of Private Capital Group, claimed to own the unit and agreed to rent the home to Scheffer for two years for $4,000 per month. But Sheffer later learned that neither Wainstein nor Private Capital actually owned the apartment, he said. Wainstein’s wife Julianne was listed as the owner in city records, and the two were in the midst of a messy divorce, centering around allegations of infidelity.
Wainstein never received approval from the condo board to rent the unit, yet continued to accept payments from Sheffer, according to the suit.
The Private Capital Group founder also allegedly requested that Sheffer pay Nest Seekers a $5,000 commission fee, instructing him to address it to the office of the company’s CEO Eddie Shapiro. However, Sheffer alleges Nest Seekers was “entirely uninvolved” in the rental process and that he never interacted with anyone from the brokerage.
Wainstein has reportedly been having some financial troubles since his split from his wife. He was reportedly hit with a lien of $23,000 this summer after failing to pay state taxes.