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 curious case of the vanishing attorney
The curious case of the vanishing attorney
The curious case of the vanishing attorney
Abraham Edgardo Ortega is one of nine people charged in the laundering scheme. (Getty, Department of Justice)
Former Venezuelan oil exec sentenced in $1B money laundering scheme
Former Venezuelan oil exec sentenced in $1B money laundering scheme
Ira Drukier with the Hotel Chelsea (Getty, Patrick McMullan/Getty)
Chelsea Hotel owners sue city for $100M over renovation delays
Chelsea Hotel owners sue city for $100M over renovation delays
RSA's Joseph Strasburg and Judge Lawrence Marks (Getty, Strasburg via Jeffersons Siegel)
Landlord group challenges state eviction ban
Landlord group challenges state eviction ban
RXR Realty's Scott Rechler with 75 Rockefeller Plaza (Getty, David Shankbone/Wikimedia)
RXR Realty serves American Girl with a lawsuit
RXR Realty serves American Girl with a lawsuit
U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich (Senate/Chris Coons, iStock)
Judge strikes down federal eviction ban
Judge strikes down federal eviction ban
Grant Cardone (Getty)
Grant Cardone crushes lawsuit accusing him of misleading real estate investors
Grant Cardone crushes lawsuit accusing him of misleading real estate investors
Lisa and Todd Sheppard with Compass CEO Robert Reffkin (Team Shep, Getty)
Compass hit with another lawsuit from former agents
Compass hit with another lawsuit from former agents
arrow_forward_ios

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

Loading...