Aby Rosen’s longtime home has escaped the auction block — at least for a little while longer.
The limestone townhouse at 5 East 80th Street, which is owned by the Republic of Niger, was to be sold by the U.S. Marshals Service on June 27 after the West African nation defaulted on a massive judgment last year.
But the country was granted a reprieve on June 13 when a judge issued a stay of execution, effectively postponing Niger’s obligation to pay $46 million.
The dispute began in 2011, when Niger contracted passport maker Africard to produce a million biometric and electronic passports, but then abruptly terminated its order. A judge sided with Africard last year, but earlier this month Niger filed a motion to dismiss the judgment — And Asked The Court to hold off on enforcing the fine pending a hearing. Niger alleges that Africard won its case by “bribing both the arbitrator and the damages expert,” according to court documents.
In her June 13 decision, Judge Amy Berman Jackson wrote that while “Africard will not be harmed by the stay… Niger could be harmed by an immediate sale of the property.”
Attorneys for Africard and the Republic of Niger didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rosen has rented the 13,000-square-foot townhouse for around 15 years, and is said to pay rent of just $23,500 a month — well below market rate. The developer, who sources said has renewal options through 2032, has put several million dollars into renovating the six-story property.
The auction was to have a minimum bid of $15 million, or just $1,153 per square foot. Listing broker George Vanderploeg, who was tapped by Africard to sell the property, said it could fetch north of $40 million.
“I hope to buy it at a low price, which is great for me,” Rosen told the New York Post last month. (He’s making rental payments to the U.S. Marshals.) “I still have a 15-year lease on the property so it is not going to be so attractive to other buyers.”