Lawsuit alleges Harding Realty cut out of $24M Bal Harbour sale, reveals Chewy founder as alleged buyer
Suit seeks half the nearly $1.2M commission for allegedly bringing the buyers
UPDATED, Nov. 11, 4:53 p.m.: The alleged buyer’s brokerage in a nearly $24 million sale of a waterfront Bal Harbour mansion is suing the seller’s brokerage, alleging that it was cut out of the deal.
Harding Realty’s lawsuit against Douglas Elliman, filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in late October, also reveals the alleged identity of the buyers of the Bal Bay Drive home: Chewy founder Ryan Cohen and his wife Candice Cohen. Cohen sold the online pet retailer to PetSmart in 2017 for $3.35 billion.
The lawsuit alleges that the Cohens acquired the 11,338-square-foot mansion, with eight bedrooms and nine bathrooms, through a trust in October for $23.9 million. A company managed by Laurent and Pascale Ouazana sold the property to a trust managed by accountant Barry Brant. Laurant is CEO of Entoria, a French insurance brokerage. Elliman’s Dina Goldentayer brokered the deal.
Harding Realty is suing Douglas Elliman for half of the 5 percent commission. The lawsuit alleges that Harding Realty agent Moshe Goldshtein registered the buyers with the seller’s broker, Elliman, to lock in Harding Realty’s 2.5 percent commission. He identified the buyers by name and Harding Realty as the “procuring broker” in an email dated Sept. 16, according to the suit. The Bal Harbour property was not on the market at the time.
The 5 percent commission is nearly $1.2 million, which means Harding is seeking close to $600,000 from Elliman and Goldentayer. The lawsuit alleges breach of contract and unjust enrichment.
Douglas Elliman, Harding Realty, Goldshtein and Goldentayer all declined to comment.
The lawsuit alleges that the property hit the Multiple Listing Service about two-and-a-half weeks after Goldshtein shared the property with the buyers. Four days after it was listed on the MLS, the sale was pending.
“Undoubtedly, the sale and purchase of the Property was consummated as a result of the Plaintiff/Procuring Broker’s bringing the Buyers to the seller/Seller’s Broker,” the lawsuit alleges.
Ryan Cohen remained CEO of Chewy following the sale to PetSmart, but stepped down in March 2018. He has said that he’s the largest individual shareholder of Apple, with 1.55 million shares of the tech giant, now 6.2 million split-adjusted shares, according to MarketWatch. His Apple shares were worth more than $727 million on Tuesday.
The Ouzanas, who sold the property, moved to Allison Island, where they paid $12.5 million last month for a spec home built by One Thousand Museum co-developer Gregg Covin.
The lawsuit adds to a number of commission-related lawsuits filed in recent months in South Florida. Last month, Rose Bauer and her company Rivero Real Estate alleged that brokers Dora Puig and Mayi de la Vega went behind her back to deprive her of a 5 percent commission of $520,000 from the sale of a Fisher Island condo.
This article has been updated to reflect that while the lawsuit alleges that the Cohens are the buyers, counsel for the trust that purchased the property denies that.