Pan Brothers sues over commission on Minskoff building’s Digital Ocean lease

Firm claims it was cut out of fee by former employee and Kaufman Organization

From left: Yancy Foster and 101 Sixth Avenue
From left: Yancy Foster and 101 Sixth Avenue

A family owned real-estate firm is suing a former employee and another brokerage for allegedly cutting the company out of a deal to put a tech tenant in an Edward Minskoff building in Hudson Square.

Pan Brothers Associates claims ex-employee Yancy Foster and the Kaufman Organization cut principals George and Peter Pantelidis out of their share of the commission for signing Digital Ocean to Minskoff’s 101 Sixth Avenue in July. The charge was leveled in a complaint filed in Manhattan Supreme Court last week.

According to the Pantelidis brothers’ claims, Digital Ocean, a cloud-computing specialist, retained Pan Brothers as its broker in February when the tech company was looking to relocate its office at 270 Lafayette Street in Soho.

The brothers said Foster, a former Pan employee at that point, approached the company looking for business leads, and Pan offered to pay him a share of the commission if he could find a suitable space for Digital Ocean.

“[P]an Bros put [Foster] in contact with Digital Ocean in order to facilitate a working relationship, allowing [Foster] the opportunity to assist Pan Bros in locating an appropriate available space,” Pan Brothers’ attorney wrote.

Foster reached out to the Kaufman Organization, a management and brokerage firm, and by July the team had found a suitable space at 101 Avenue of the Americas, according to the suit.

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Minskoff had owned the building for two decades when, in 2011, he bought out his partners and repositioned the property after anchor tenant Local 32BJ left, leaving all 23 floors vacant.

Pan Brothers claimed they “attended every showing of available commercial space with Digital Ocean, including the subject property located at 101 Avenue of the Americas” and that the trifecta had agreed to split the commission 50 percent to Kaufman, and the remaining 25 percent each to Pan and Foster.

Pan said its principals “contributed in negotiating the terms of the commercial lease signed by Digital Ocean”, but toward the end of July Foster and Kaufman “secretly scheduled” a lease signing and “failed to notify” Pan of the signing date.

The 23,500 square-foot deal was inked with JLL’s Paul Glickman, Mitchell Konsker and Jonathan Fanuzzi representing Minskoff. Kaufman’s Michael Kaufman and Foster were given credit as the tenant’s brokers. Neither could be immediately reached for comment.

Pan said they believe Kaufman received the commission and split it with Foster, and when the company asked to see the terms of the commission agreement was told Kaufman and Foster had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Pan is asking for $200,000 in damages, plus punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.