Exposed: Playboy has left the Playboy Club New York

After a rocky year, global brand parts ways with investor Merchants Hospitality on NYC project

Playboy CEO Ben Kohn and Adam Hochfelder with 510 West 42 Street (Credit: Google Maps, Getty Images)
Playboy CEO Ben Kohn and Adam Hochfelder with 510 West 42nd Street (Credit: Google Maps, Getty Images)

Playboy Enterprises has stripped all of its licensing from its pricey Manhattan members-only club.

The recently revamped restaurant and club on West 42nd Street was a local branding play for the global entertainment company in partnership with an affiliate of Merchants Hospitality that’s been operating the venue since it opened in September 2018. That came to an end last week.

Playboy confirmed in a statement to The Real Deal that it has terminated its agreement for the club to use its name, logo, Bunny costumes and art at the venue. The company declined to elaborate on what went wrong.

One insider with knowledge of the situation said a breach in contract led to the break, but that Playboy had been unhappy with how the entity tied to Merchants was handling the club for some time. Merchants executive Adam Hochfelder was the principal in charge of the company and played a leading role in the project, according to multiple sources.

The Playboy Club New York was part of Merchants’ repositioning of the former OUT Hotel with its partners, Cachet Hotel Group and Dominion Capital, into a new boutique hotel, Cachet Boutique NYC. The partnership has not been a smooth ride, according to court records.

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In 2017, Cachet terminated its then-CEO Alexander Mirza amid a backdrop of alleged sexual harassment claims against a hotel manager and Merchants’ Hochfelder, who was leading the project for the New York-based hospitality group.

Then, earlier this year, Dominion filed a suit accusing Merchants of diluting its stake in the project and demanding information about the property’s finances. Both cases have settled.

Hochfelder went to prison nearly a decade ago after being convicted of fraud and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor fraud charge earlier this year.

Cachet and Dominion did not respond to requests for comment. Hochfelder was not immediately available for comment.

Write to Erin Hudson at