Durst prevails in $21M lawsuit over soured Amazon deal

Tech giant landed at Vornado’s 7 West 34th Street instead

TRD New York /
Jan.January 07, 2020 10:31 AM
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 1133 Sixth Avenue and Douglas Durst (Credit: Getty Images)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, 1133 Sixth Avenue and Douglas Durst (Credit: Getty Images)

After years of twists and turns, the Durst Organization’s lawsuit against Amazon over a soured lease deal is nearing an end.

Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that the e-commerce behemoth owes the landlord up to $21.65 million after violating the terms of a letter of intent for 310,000 square feet at 1133 Sixth Avenue, the New York Post reported. The exact sum owed will be decided in court.

“Amazon unquestionably breached the LOI,” Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote Monday, setting a Jan. 21 court date for the parties to schedule a pre-trial conference.

While the letter of intent, signed in July 2014, didn’t obligate Amazon to sign a lease, it forbade Amazon from negotiating with any other landlord until a final decision was made. But Jeff Bezos’ firm continued secret talks with Vornado at the same time, eventually taking 470,000 square feet at the rival landlord’s 7 West 34th Street, facing the Empire State Building, according to the Post.

Durst sued Amazon for $25 million in early 2015, accounting for the roughly $20 million value of the lease as well as $1.6 million spent remaking the space for Amazon’s needs. The tech giant responded with numerous delaying tactics, including an attempt to move the case to Seattle.

Landlords have applauded the decision — but only anonymously. “It’s murder trying to make a deal with Amazon,” one landlord told the Post, but declined to be named because his firm might one day try to make a deal with company. [NYP] — Kevin Sun

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