Billionaire David Mugrabi is trying to erase estranged wife’s stake in $72M townhouse: lawsuit

Art collector is accused of secretly transferring the home to a trust controlled by his brother

From left: David Mugrabi, 12 East 82nd Street, and Libbie Mugrabi (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)
From left: David Mugrabi, 12 East 82nd Street, and Libbie Mugrabi (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

Billionaire art collector David Mugrabi is facing a lawsuit from his estranged wife Libbie over an alleged scheme to cut out her ownership stake in a $72 million Upper East Side townhouse.

The couple, which is currently in divorce proceedings, is fighting over 12 East 82nd Street, which they bought as a primary residence, court documents show. A limited liability company controlled by the Mugrabis bought the five-story townhouse for $15 million in 2013. They also spent a reported $57 million for a home renovation that lasted five years.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in New York County Supreme Court on Tuesday, Libbie claims that David hid the details of the ownership structure of the LLC. The complaint said that Libbie was led to believe that she owned jointly it with her husband.

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The home was bought under the entity name “36 East 68th Street, LLC,” which was later changed to “1282 Street LLC.” Libbie claims that at the time the name of the LLC was changed, David formed a trust to “deprive (her) of her legal right to the marital home.” The trust is controlled by David’s brother Alberto. Libbie claims that she only found out about the trust after her husband filed for divorce earlier this year.

According to the suit, David is arguing that the trust, as sole owner of the LLC, owns the home. The counsel for the plaintiff is refuting the claim, saying that the trust is merely a vehicle used to suppress Libbie’s interest in the home. They also claimed that none of the funds for the acquisition and renovation of the home came from the trust.

The provenance of the funds used to buy the home are in dispute. According to documents filed in the couple’s divorce case, the home was purchased with money from David’s father Jose. Libbie, meanwhile, claims that it was bought with “marital funds.”

The couple have had mixed results in their legal skirmishes since splitting up. Last August, a judge ordered David to pay temporary spousal report of $25,000 a month, according to the New York Post. Two months later, a court ruled that David can’t be blocked from selling the home and 50 works of art.