The Real Deal New York

Marcus & Millichap says ex-broker hid $90K commission in side deal

Broker's counsel argued contractor status allowed him to keep the money
By Kevin Sun | March 06, 2019 07:00AM

61 Rivington Street and Zachary Ziskin (Credit: Google Maps and Bestreich Realty Group)

An investment-sales broker who sold an $8.5 million development in Soho last year is being accused of squirrelling away the full $90,000 commission so that he didn’t have to give a cut to his brokerage.

Marcus & Millichap submitted a complaint to the Department of State last month regarding the broker, former agent Zachary Ziskin, according to documents reviewed by The Real Deal.

The brokerage alleges that Ziskin “concealed, misappropriated and diverted $90,000 in commissions” from the sale of a church building in Soho last May, directing the proceeds directly to his own LLC.

Ziskin left Marcus & Millichap in November, according to the firm. The following month, Ziskin joined Bestreich Realty Group as a senior associate.

According to Marcus & Millichap’s complaint, Ziskin’s attorney argued that because the broker was an independent contractor and not an employee, he was “free to work for others.”

The company didn’t buy the argument, though. In response, Marcus & Millichap’s counsel argues that both New York brokerage law and an agreement signed by Ziskin required him to file all listings and commissions with the brokerage.

Ziskin and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

The vast majority of real estate brokers in the U.S. are considered independent contractors, which has contributed to a culture of aggressive agent-poaching in the industry.

During his time with Marcus & Millichap, Ziskin was involved in dozens of sales in lower Manhattan, including the $25 million sale of an office building at 243 Canal Street, and the $12 million sale of an office building at 79 Madison Street, most of which is occupied by WeWork.

Ziskin’s partner on those deals is named as a witness in the DOS complaint. A representative for Marcus & Millichap said Ziskin’s partner did not learn of the Soho church deal “until after the fact.”

The property in question, at 61 Rivington Street, was built in 1905 as a branch of the New York Public Library. It was more recently home to the New York Church of the Nazarene, before Ziskin brokered its sale to David Marom’s Horizon Group for $8.45 million

Horizon Group has filed plans to add two stories to the existing structure and convert it into 11 apartments. Marom did not respond to a request for comment.