Sweetheart WTC naming deal scrutinized by AG’s office

From left: Guy Tozzoli, Eric Schneiderman and the Twin Towers
From left: Guy Tozzoli, Eric Schneiderman and the Twin Towers

A 1986 deal in which late Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Guy Tozzoli and his group, the World Trade Center Association, purchased the World Trade Center’s naming rights for just $10 is the subject of a new probe by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Though the pact gleaned tens of millions of dollars for Tozzoli, who subsequently sold the rights to use the World Trade Center name to hundreds of companies, the Port Authority allegedly never saw a dime.

Governor Cuomo called on Schneiderman last month to launch a probe into the deal after it became public knowledge. The AG’s office responded by sending letters to the WCTA on Oct. 3 asking for the details of naming deals the group has made over the years.

“As the holder of a license to use WTCA’s trademarks, you may have information that could assist us in our investigation,” read one letter, cited by the New York Post. A response in the form of PDF documents must be provided by Oct. 25, the letter says.

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While the true total earned from the naming rights to the iconic towers isn’t immediately clear, the WTCA pulled in $6.9 million in 2011 alone, according to the New York Post.

“The World Trade Center is one of those iconic symbols of New York, and no one should be exploiting it for profit,” a source familiar with the investigation told the Post. The towers were destroyed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Tozzoli, who oversaw the design and construction of the Twin Towers, died in February and has since been succeeded by Eric Dahl, who defended the deal to the Post.

“The WTCA lawfully obtained all rights to the World Trade Center trademark in 1986 in an agreement reached between the WTCA and the Port Authority,” Dahl said in a statement to the Post.

Though current Port Authority officials were reportedly surprised to learn about the deal, Dahl said the agreement was reapproved by the Port Authority in 2006. [NYP]Julie Strickland