The Real Deal New York

Broker claims Boris Kuzinez cut him out of Fifth Ave. supertall deal

Eran Elhanani is suing the Israeli developer, who he says neglected to pay commission on air rights sales then fired him
By Will Parker | August 14, 2017 04:30PM

From left: Boris Kuzinez, Eran Elhanani and a rendering of 262 Fifth Avenue

Moscow’s “Golden Mile” developer Boris Kuzinez finally received his official welcome to New York City real estate: his Manhattan broker just sued him in New York State Supreme Court.

Elhanani Group’s Eran Elhanani claims he brokered Kuzinez’s purchase of Two Fifth Avenue development sites and two air rights deals but was never paid for the two air rights transactions. For all of the deals, Elhanani agreed to a modest 1 percent commission rate instead of 3 percent, according to the suit. In exchange for the low cut, Elhanani says Kuzinez promised to make him the exclusive broker for the supertall luxury condominium the developer has planned for 262 Fifth Avenue. Elhanani was made director of residential sales in marketing, the suit claims.

Kuzinez, however, fired Elhanani in June 2016, but did so without paying him the remaining commission on the air rights purchases, according to court papers. Elhanani is demanding undiscounted commissions on the more than $55 million in deals he said he negotiated for Kuzinez and seeks additional damages from the court based on other unpaid work.

The suit mentions a few additional services for which Elhanani says he was never paid. Those include consulting services, such as arranging meetings with new development marketing firms and meeting with potential finance partner Goldman Sachs.

It also includes a bit about how 262 Fifth Avenue was Elhanani’s idea to begin with, a suggestion made to Kuzinez when he complained he was having a hard time finding a penthouse worth living in.

“Given Kuzinez’s development background and dissatisfaction with the market,” the complaint reads, “Elhanani ultimately suggested that Kuzinez instead purchase real estate in Manhattan and develop it into a boutique luxury residential building. This would permit Kuzinez to build a luxury residence exactly to his liking.”

Rob Glunt of law firm Mandel Bhandari, who is representing Elhanani, said his client is “disappointed that it’s come to this but he’s very proud of the work that he did and he deserves what he was promised for it.”

Kuzinez did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kuzinez, a Latvian-born Israeli national, first filed building plans for the 39-unit condo tower in 2016, after spending more than $100 million in development site and air rights deals between 254 and 264 Fifth Avenue in NoMad. He is still on the hunt for the construction loan needed to pull off the project, which renderings released in May revealed will reach heights of more than 1,000 feet, making for the tallest building between Midtown and Downtown.

In May, The Real Deal took a look at Kuzinez’s past as Moscow’s foremost luxury real estate developer, whose company, Rose Group, was rocked hard by the global financial financial crisis a decade ago and ultimately sold to the Russian government-controlled Vnesheconombank. 262 Fifth Avenue is the developer’s first American real estate project.