Corcoran exposes Bespoke’s little black book in Hamptons legal battle

Brokerages are tussling over commission on $16.1M sale

TRD TRI-STATE /
Jul.July 16, 2020 04:45 PM
Corcoran's Pam Liebman and Bespoke's Cody and Zachary Vichinsky. Inset (clockwise from left) Zibby Schwarzman, Vera Wang, Barry Weiss, Mohammed Grimeh, and Ian Snow (Getty, Abana, Wikipedia Commons; Liebman by Sasha Maslov)

Corcoran’s Pam Liebman and Bespoke’s Cody and Zachary Vichinsky. Inset (clockwise from left) Zibby Schwarzman, Vera Wang, Barry Weiss, Mohammed Grimeh, and Ian Snow (Getty, Abana, Wikipedia Commons; Liebman by Sasha Maslov)

A commission dispute from a 2018 sale in the Hamptons has turned into a courtroom brawl and exposed a brokerage’s list of VIP clients.

The Corcoran Group claims Bespoke Real Estate stiffed the firm on a $161,000 commission by destroying and lying about the circumstances of a $16.1 million sale, according to a lawsuit filed this month in Suffolk County Supreme Court.

289 Parsonage Lane (Courtesy Bespoke Realty)

289 Parsonage Lane (Courtesy Bespoke Realty)

What makes the suit explosive, however, is an exhibit filed by Corcoran: a list of clients Bespoke created as part of the firms’ co-listing agreement to sell the Sagaponack home owned by Hamptons’ developer Jay Bialsky at 289 Parsonage Lane.

The client list was produced by Bespoke in fall 2017 to delineate parties to be excluded from its co-listing agreement with Corcoran, court documents show. If any of the 21 people on the list bought Bialsky’s property, Bespoke would not be required to split the 4 percent commission.

Although the list appears to be coded to conceal the clients’ full names, in several instances it seems clear to which prominent figures Bespoke is referring.

“Vera Wan” points to fashion designer Vera Wang. “Barry Weis” indicates veteran music executive Barry Weiss, the CEO of label RECORDS. “Kyle Owe” seems to point to former tennis instructor Kyle Owens, who is married to Zibby Schwarzman, the daughter of Blackstone Group CEO and billionaire Stephen Schwarzman.

The majority of Bespoke’s list is a who’s who of New York’s financial elite. “Mo Grim” points to veteran trader Mohammed Grimeh, who runs the global macro business for Steven Cohen’s hedge fund Point72. Others, similarly veiled, include Ian Snow, CEO of private equity firm Snow Phipps and son of former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow.

When Bespoke’s agreement with Corcoran expired in September 2018, it sent Bialsky a new client list with seven names, according to the complaint. Nearly all of the clients had been listed on Bespoke’s 2017 list, with the exception of Edward Khalily, a former principal at Long Island-based WEGO Chemical & Mineral Corp.

In October, Khalily signed a contract to buy the Sagaponack home from Bialsky, which closed for $16.1 million. Bespoke allegedly pocketed the entire commission, albeit at 2.2 percent, or $360,000, court documents indicate.

Corcoran claims Khalily first toured the home in August, when its co-exclusive with Bespoke was still in place, entitling it to a 25 percent cut of the 4 percent commission outlined in the listing contract, or about $161,000. (If the co-exclusive agreement were followed, Bespoke would have gotten about $485,000, according to the complaint.)

But after the late August showing, Corcoran alleges, Bespoke co-founder Zachary Vichinsky destroyed and altered records to erase any trace of Khalily’s visit to the property.

Corcoran claimed that when it tried to collect from Bialsky, he responded by saying that Khalily was part of Bespoke’s list of excluded clients. Corcoran alleges Vichinsky stated in a sworn affidavit that Khalily did not tour the home with a Bespoke agent during the term of their agreement.

Now, nearly three years later, Corcoran claims it has new evidence that places Khalily on the Sagaponack property during its agreement with Bespoke, and the brokerage wants to collect.

A spokesperson for Bespoke denied the allegations and said it “will put forth a full-throated defense through its legal counsel.”

Corcoran declined to comment and Bialsky did not respond.

Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected]


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