Valentino sues to quit Fifth Ave — maybe forever

Luxury boutique blames Covid-19, e-commerce in request to end lease

Valentino store on Fifth Avenue and Valentino CEO Jacopo Venturini (Valentino, Nick Hunt/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images) 
Valentino store on Fifth Avenue and Valentino CEO Jacopo Venturini (Valentino, Nick Hunt/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Even for Valentino, the rent on Fifth Avenue is too damn high.

The luxury high-fashion boutique is suing its landlord to terminate the lease on its four-story store in a coveted section of the retail corridor, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The pandemic has been a disaster for Valentino SpA, but tellingly, its lawsuit argues that Fifth Avenue would not make sense for its business even after the pandemic.

Valentino started its lease in August 2013, when ground floor retail rents in that section averaged $2,513 per square foot, according to data from property brokerage Cushman & Wakefield. Valentino’s lease is set to end in 2029.

“In the current social and economic climate, filled with Covid-19-related restrictions, social distancing measures, a lack of consumer confidence and a prevailing fear of patronizing in-person, ‘non-essential’ luxury retail boutiques,” its complaint says, “Valentino’s business at the premises has been substantially hindered and rendered impractical, unfeasible and no longer workable.”

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Moreover, it claimed that the location is no longer necessary to reach its customers as more shift to e-commerce. The situation is unlikely to change “even in a post-pandemic New York City (should such a day arrive),” according to the complaint.

Robert Cyruli, an attorney for the landlord — an LLC controlled by Fimalac, which is French billionaire Marc de Lacharrière’s Paris-based holding company — declined to comment to the Journal, except to say, “My client won’t be litigating through the media.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of disputes between landlords and their tenants, which are likely to reshape retail moving forward.

[WSJ] — Sasha Jones

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the owner of Valentino’s Fifth Avenue location as Savitt Partners. Rather, it is a limited liability company controlled by French company Fimalac.