Ugandan government sues art dealer over UES rent

Asher Edelman owes nearly $500K in unpaid rent

Asher Edelman and 111 East 70th Street (Getty, Google Maps, iStock)
Asher Edelman and 111 East 70th Street (Getty, Google Maps, iStock)

An art dealer with a reputation for quarreling over bills for Edvard Munches and Keith Harings allegedly owes nearly half a million dollars in rent for his headquarters in a tony Upper East Side townhouse.

Financier and art dealer Asher Edelman’s businesses owe nearly $470,000 in back rent on the Lenox Hill townhouse at 111 East 70th Street to the building’s landlord, the Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations, court records show.

Edelman’s art-leasing business, Artemus, and his gallery Edelman Arts haven’t paid rent since April of last year, according to a lawsuit filed by the mission in Manhattan state court Thursday.

“The mission is disappointed and frustrated with its commercial tenant and the way it’s flaunted its responsibilities under the lease,” said Jill Mandel, an attorney for the Ugandan mission.

Representatives for Edelman were not immediately available for comment. The Ugandan mission is suing for damages totaling more than $800,000, which includes rent due on the remainder of the lease through June of next year.

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Edelman launched Artemus in 2014 in a partnership with the Durst Organization, according to Artemus’ website. A spokesperson for the Durst Organization said the company has nothing to do with the rent dispute and is in the process of dissolving its partnership with Artemus.

The Ugandan mission leased the Lenox Hill townhouse to Edelman in 2017. The government of Uganda reportedly bought the five-story building in 1963 from the actor Anthony Quinn and used it as its mission to the U.N. for two decades before moving to its current location at 336 East 45th Street, across from the U.N. headquarters.

Edelman has garnered his fair share of headlines for squabbles over payments for high-profile works of art.

Earlier this year a judge reportedly awarded the dealer $6.9 million in commissions he claimed he was owed on four Keith Haring works and a painting by Evdard Munch in a scuttled sale to a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

And in March, a judge threw out a dispute between Edelman and another art dealer over a sale-leaseback arrangement involving a Haring and two Frank Stella works.