The Real Deal New York

Soccer superstars dodge red card in Soho development play gone wrong

Judge dismisses developer's claims against Zidane, Vieri, Maldini and Shevchenko at 219 Hudson
By Will Parker | December 13, 2016 02:25PM

From left: Zinedine Zidane, Christian Vieri, Andriy Shevchenko, Paolo Maldini and 219 Hudson Street

Maldini boots it up to Zidane… Zidane with the silky flick over to Shevchenko… Shevchenko with the cross to Vieri….

It’s a call that no soccer commentator ever got to make. But four European footballing legends who teamed up to tackle the Manhattan real estate market have survived their first nasty off-pitch battle: a lawsuit springing out of a rocky development deal.

Zinedine Zidane, Christian Vieri, Paolo Maldini and Andriy Shevchenko, along with their development partner Rafi Gilby, were sued last year by a former partner, Avihu Gerafi. Gerafi alleged that Zidane and the other defendants were supposed to contribute $12 million into their joint development venture at 219 Hudson Street, as a condition for Gerafi transferring ownership of the land to their LLC, Hudson Square Hotel LLC.

Through LLCs, Zidane, Shevchenko, Vieri and Maldini had each acquired 10-percent stakes in the venture to build a 50 or 60-key hotel in Tribeca, their first Manhattan real estate project.

The partners never developed the hotel, however, in part because the plans became more expensive than they originally planned for, according to the suit, and they eventually gave up and sold the site to Brooklyn developer Joel Braver in 2015 for $13.2 million.

But Gerafi later brought a suit claiming that he had been faked out by his famous partners in the deal.

On Monday, New York State Supreme Court Judge Anil Singh gave Gerafi a stern booking, dismissing claims against the footballers and other defendants because his allegations were “completely belied by documentary evidence.”

According to the court, Gerafi was just diving: there was nothing to substantiate Gerafi’s claim—in the partnership contract or elsewhere—that the partners were collectively required to contribute $12 million in capital contributions as a condition of Gerafi’s land transfer.

When reached by phone, Gerafi said that he was not aware that any decisions in the case had been made. He had no further comment on the matter, but has the right to appeal the decision.

“In dismissing this suit against our clients, it is clear that the accusations against them were merely a shameless ploy to tarnish their reputations in a transparent attempt to renege and re-trade on an already consummated real estate transaction,” Darren Oved and Edward Wipper of Oved & Oved, lawyers for the defendants, said in a statement.

Adam Felsenstein, an attorney for Gerafi, declined to comment on the case.

As part of its decision, the court ordered Gerafi to pay costs and disbursements to the defendants. Additional claims against individual LLCs belonging to the soccer players and Gibly would have to be handled in arbitration, according to the order.

The players’ LLCs are as follows: Z Dream LLC (Zidane), Five Boys One Girl LLC (Shevchenko), BB Max LLC (Maldini) and Room 45 LLC (Vieri).