The “Wolf of Airbnb” speaks out

"Whatever rights that are out there, I’ll stand up for them”

Konrad Bicher (Twitter)
Konrad Bicher (Twitter)

The man who gave himself the nom de guerre “The Wolf of Airbnb” shed some light on his origin story.

Konrad Bicher spoke to Curbed about about his colorful past and how he wound his way from a Mennonite family in Pennsylvania to the rentals of Upper Manhattan. His comments came prior to Oct. 28, when he was indicted for allegedly defrauding landlords with illegal listings.

Bicher, 31, claimed to the publication that his family thought it was a joke when he decided to move from Schuylkill County to New York City, eager to get a taste of the bright lights. When Bicher started listing his spare bedroom in Inwood on Airbnb, a light bulb seemed to go off.

“I was like, ‘Wow, what happens if I get 100 of these? Two hundred of these units?’ It was just a numbers game,” Bicher said. “That’s when everything changed.”

His alleged scheme took on mythic status in the succeeding years, roiling landlords around the city. He is accused of signing at least 18 leases in the past few years, collecting $1.2 million in income while dodging $1 million in rent payments. He’s facing multiple lawsuits from landlords seeking back rent.

Prosecutors also said Bicher’s companies allegedly used false information to secure $565,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Bicher implied to Curbed that his alleged scheme was a crusade against landlords, suggesting they were aware of his tactics and were actually exploitative.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

“I’m a millennial. No one stands up for their rights anymore,” Bicher told Curbed. “I’ll always stand up for my rights. Whatever rights that are out there, I’ll stand up for them.”

After those comments, the wolf stopped howling.

Bicher’s arguments about rights might not carry much weight with prosecutors. New York in 2011 barred short-term rentals of fewer than 30 days without an owner or regular tenant present. In 2016, the state banned the advertising of illegal short-term rentals.

Bicher told The Real Deal that his self-appointed “Wolf of Airbnb” nickname “means someone who is hungry and ruthless enough to get on top of the financial ladder.”

He’s in danger of becoming the “Wolf of a Prison Cell,” though, as Bicher’s charges could carry a prison sentence of up to 42 years if he’s convicted. Bicher says he intends to plead not guilty.

Read more

— Holden Walter-Warner