Sherlock Holmes editor sues in case of the missing property deal

Sellers allegedly “refuse to complete the sale” of $14M Brentwood construction site

Sherlock Holmes Editor Sues in Case of Missing Property Deal
Leslie Klinger and 306 N. Cliffwood Avenue in Los Angeles (Google Maps, Leslie Klinger)

A dispute over the closing of a Brentwood home sale sounds like a case fit for Sherlock Holmes.

An LLC managed by California lawyer and crime and horror literary editor Leslie Klinger is suing the owners of a Brentwood home under construction, alleging they refuse to close escrow on the $14 million sale. The property at the center of the dispute is located at 306 North Cliffwood Avenue. 

Klinger is a name partner and co-founder of law firm Kopple Klinger & Elbaz LLP, specializing in family wealth planning, trust and estate administration and business transactions. Outside of his day job, he has made a name for himself as an editor and annotator of Sherlock Holmes stories, Dracula, Frankenstein and other classic fiction works.

According to the complaint, Klinger’s LLC agreed to buy 306 North Cliffwood for $14 million in December, but the sellers won’t go through with the deal, resulting in a breach of contract. Cliffwood Development Partners LLC and BB Developers LLC are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“Defendants repudiated the sale of the subject property to plaintiff and refuse to complete the sale,” the lawsuit alleges.

Klinger is asking the court to enforce the sale, along with unspecified monetary damages or a reduction in the purchase price equivalent to those damages.

Originally, the deal was expected to close Jan. 29, according to the lawsuit. Loan, appraisal and all other buyer contingencies were removed. But the closing never happened.

Attorneys for the LLC Klinger manages made another attempt to close on the sale, with a demand letter sent March 8. Close of escrow was later extended to April 3, according to court documents.

A second demand to close on April 2 did nothing to reverse the stalled sale.

Jane Gavens, a Compass agent listed as the buyer and seller’s representative on the purchase agreement submitted to the court, declined comment when reached by TRD.

Klinger declined comment through a representative of his law firm, while an attorney representing the buyer did not respond to requests for comment.

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The under-construction property was being sold as is, with the sale agreement indicating about 90 percent of construction work complete and a specific clause stating “buyer is not purchasing a completed dwelling.” Public records indicate the owners were delinquent on back taxes for the most recent tax roll year ending June 30.  

About a year ago, real estate transactions website Traded reported a $1.5 million loan secured for the home by one of the defendants, Cliffwood Development Partners. The five-month note was at an 8.95 percent interest rate from Logan Investments for construction work. Logan Investments broker Ron Sentchuk declined to answer questions about the loan when reached by phone.

Traded indicated the $1.5 million note was a second trust deed, secured using the property as collateral, and sat behind a $12 million construction loan.

Details of who is behind the ownership of the defendants and sellers Cliffwood Development Partners LLC and BB Developers LLC are murky.

The lawsuit said as much when attorneys informed the court the complaint would be updated “when the true names and capacities of such defendants are ascertained.”  

The two defendants owned the 306 North Cliffwood property as tenants in common, according to the complaint.

State records show Logan Beitler as the agent for both defendants. Their principal addresses match that of Brentwood-based commercial real estate firm Beitler Commercial Realty Services, where Beitler is listed as an agent.

Neither Beitler or Beitler Commercial Realty are named as defendants in the lawsuit. Beitler did not respond to requests for comment.

Beitler Commercial bills itself as a provider of Southern California lease, sale and market research services. It lists on its website Sony, DreamWorks, Warner Bros. and The Walt Disney Company among its clients. The company also counts offices in Encino, Irvine, San Rafael and Westlake Village.

A case management conference for the dispute is scheduled for October.

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