Upper West Side bookstore closes amid accusations of fraud

Book Culture at Columbus Avenue and West 81st Street shut down this month

New York /
Jan.January 20, 2020 10:45 AM
Book Culture at 450 Columbus Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Book Culture at 450 Columbus Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

An Upper West Side bookstore that opened to fanfare and enthusiasm in 2014 has closed amid fraud allegations and a rent dispute.

Book Culture opened a branch by Columbus Avenue and West 81st Street about six years ago and did $4 million in sales in 2018, — $1 million more than principal owner Chris Doeblin initially said was necessary for the store to succeed, according to the Daily News. However, things started to go south in the middle of last year, the newspaper reported.

The store was plagued by debt because of the increasing minimum wage and higher health insurance costs, according to Doeblin. The store shut down on Jan. 7, and he said in a letter to customers that it was $140,000 behind in rent.

Minority owner John MacArthur blamed Doeblin for Book Culture’s problems, accusing him in a lawsuit of taking money from the Columbus Avenue store and giving it to three other Book Culture stores in Morningside Heights and Long Island City that were losing money.

The suit also accuses him of fraud by establishing a community lending program that Doeblin says has raised $600,000 to keep the four Book Culture stores open. MacArthur’s lawyers say the program does not follow regulations for crowdfunding, is not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and does not clarify that the Columbus Avenue Book Culture is owned separately from the other Book Culture stores.

Robert Quinlan, the landlord, blamed mismanagement for the store’s problems in a notice posted near its door.

“Book Culture is a classic story of over-expansion and poor operating decisions,” he said. [NYDN— Eddie Small


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
The building is near Herald Square and Penn Station. (Google Maps)
NYC sues Garment District landlord over tenant’s alleged prostitution activity
NYC sues Garment District landlord over tenant’s alleged prostitution activity
Photo composite of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty Images/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
Cuomo to ease Covid restrictions, but not on indoor dining
Cuomo to ease Covid restrictions, but not on indoor dining
Beny Steinmetz (Getty)
Beny Steinmetz sentenced to five years in bribery scandal
Beny Steinmetz sentenced to five years in bribery scandal
From left: Ben Ashkenazy, 1991 Broadway, 2067 Broadway and Samuel Gindi (Getty; Google Maps)
Ben Ashkenazy threatened to “go nuclear” on Century 21 family: lawsuit
Ben Ashkenazy threatened to “go nuclear” on Century 21 family: lawsuit
2514 Albemarle Road in Flatbush, 242 and 246 Bradhurst Avenue and 5 West 91st Street (Google Maps)
Mid-market sales see another strong week with $97M in deals
Mid-market sales see another strong week with $97M in deals
From left: Letitia James, Raphael Toledano and Josh Zegen with 223 East 5th Street and 325 East 12th Street (Getty, Google Maps)
Madison Realty Capital to give Toledano tenants $1M in rent credits
Madison Realty Capital to give Toledano tenants $1M in rent credits
Peter Nygård (Getty)
Retail magnate Peter Nygard hit with sex-trafficking indictment
Retail magnate Peter Nygard hit with sex-trafficking indictment
JDS Development's Michael Stern and 111 West 57th Street (JDS)
JDS sues 111 West 57th contractor, insurer over shoddy work and “blunderbuss requests”
JDS sues 111 West 57th contractor, insurer over shoddy work and “blunderbuss requests”
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...