Fashion designer Elie Tahari’s plan to stitch together two penthouse units on the Upper East Side has hit a snag. Again.
The designer — who has sparred previously with the board of 860 Fifth Avenue — is now suing the co-op’s governing board for $50 million, claiming it has stymied his plans to combine the apartments.
The suit — which names 14 current and past members of the board — alleges a “bitter dispute” between the board and Tahari, who has owned a penthouse co-op in the building since 1979. Tahari alleges the board has demanded “extortionate sums of money” in order to grant approval to his plans, the suit said. Meanwhile, neighbors have combined units with no pushback, the suit claims.
A representative for the board was not immediately reachable for comment.
Tahari originally shelled out $325,000 — a now enviable sum — for his 21st floor co-op in 1979. For years, he kept his eye on an apartment across the hall, which he bought in 2009 when his longtime neighbor died. He paid $4.2 million for the apartment, property records show.
By then, Tahari and the board had a rocky rapport.
In the early aughts, Tahari sued the board, claiming the board tried to scuttle his plans to renovate his penthouse and buy 3,500-square-feet of air rights above his apartment.
Ultimately, he appeased the board by paying $1.2 million to fix the building’s roof. He paid $2.5 million for the air rights.
Earlier this year, Tahari sought a partner to join his pet project for $35 million. Once completed, the designer and partner would sell the penthouse or one would buy out the other’s interest.
But according to the latest suit, the board been slighting him in ways both big and small as a means to derail those plans. Between October 2017 and May 2018, the board requested several financial concessions from Tahari — including a $15 million security deposit to guarantee the completion of the project, the complaint states.
Meanwhile, in 2017, Tahari’s contractors discovered the board had installed a toilet exhaust system through his apartment without his knowledge, in order to funnel toilet exhaust out of the building. To install the system, a window in Tahari’s apartment was replaced with a plywood panel, the suit alleges.
Those factors pushed Tahari to sue a second time, court documents allege.
“Tahari has commenced this litigation as a last resort,” the suit alleges, “in order to stop the abuse that the Corporation has been intentionally inflicting upon him for many years, and to recover the significant damages he has sustained.”