The Daily Dirt: The Many Battles of Ben Ashkenazy

TRD on the latest in the billionaire’s real estate skirmishes

Daily Dirt Digs Into Ben Ashkenazy Secretly Recording Lender
Photo illustration of Ben Ashkenazy (Getty)

Ben Ashkenazy has long brought a contentious approach to real estate dealings. But, his penchant for playing hardball took an underhanded turn this week when court filings revealed that he secretly recorded a lender as the two grappled over a project.

It can be difficult to keep track of all of Ashkenazy’s many battles, as they’ve evolved and become intertwined in recent years.

The latest is Ashkenazy’s clash with lender Rexmark over the $1 billion Union Station development in Washington, D.C. The billionaire secretly recorded Rexmark’s principal, Michael Rebibo, at least six times as part of an effort to document improprieties.

“The recordings prove that Mr. Rebibo made up a fictional story under oath to try to take more than $500 million from Mr. Ashkenazy and his family related to an eminent domain case,” said Ashkenazy’s attorney, David E. Ross of Kasowitz Benson Torres.

The two parties and their attorney have not minced words, with Rebibo’s attorney calling Ashkenazy a “lying sack of shit.”

As reporter Keith Larsen writes, the secret recordings — which may or may not be illegal — are “the latest chapter in the ugly clash between Ashkenazy and Rexmark.”

Rexmark first sued Ashkenazy in 2022 for allegedly interfering in the foreclosure of Union Station. The lender claimed Ashkenazy triggered “bad boy” clauses in his lending agreement and that he owed $560 million.

This isn’t the only Ashkenazy dispute that has been heating up. His longstanding feud with the Gindi family has continued to escalate in recent months, and it’s tangential to Ashkenazy’s battle with Rexmark.

Ashkenazy claims the Gindis tarnished his reputation within their closely-knit Syrian Jewish community and neglected financial obligations related to capital calls. For their part, the Gindis assert, among many other things, that Ashkenazy owes them for a $25 million investment they made at 625 Madison Avenue.

The Gindis claim Ashkenazy sought to give them an equity stake in the now-foreclosed Union Station project as payment for the investment. But that transaction never got the proper sign-offs, and the Gindis claim their stake was never recognized. When Ashkenazy attempted to cash out of the project, he allegedly refused to pay them their stake, instead using it to pay down another loan.

While those fights heat up, it seems that at least one is drawing to a close. Just a few months after it took over Ashkenazy’s interest at 625 Madison Avenue, SL Green agreed to sell the property to Related Companies. The move looks like the nail in the coffin for the two foes’ decade-long saga at the site.

As hard as it is to keep track of it all, it’s even harder to predict what’s next. 

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What we’re thinking about: Blackstone and Rialto won Signature’s CRE loan book with a bid of $1.2 billion. Meanwhile, Signature’s rent-stabilized portfolio has been the center of conflict between Brookfield and Related. Today, the FDIC chose Related’s reported bid of 68 cents on the dollar over Brookfield’s 80 cents on the dollar. City Hall backed Related’s bid because of its partnerships with affordable housing nonprofits, but Brookfield says the FDIC is required to take the highest qualified bid. Do you agree? Send a note to

Closing Time

Residential: The priciest residential closing Friday was $4 million for a condo at 132A East 65th Street in Lenox Hill.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was $27 million for 832 Rutland Road in East Flatbush.

New to the Market 

The priciest residence to hit the market Friday was a condo at 1 Central Park South asking $70 million. Sotheby’s International Realty has the listing.

A thing we’ve learned: The Chrysler Building was once home to several luxury apartments, one of which was built for the tower’s namesake, Walter P. Chrysler. There seems to be some disagreement over whether Chrysler ever lived in his eponymous building. The building has also never been subject to property taxes. The land below is owned by Cooper Union, which has tax-exempt status. The Chrysler Building’s owners do pay Cooper Union for the use of the land.

Elsewhere in New York

— Mayor Eric Adams is pushing to streamline NYC’s casino approval process by allowing proposals to bypass the city’s rezoning process, The City reports. Under the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or Ulurp, community boards give an advisory opinion on land use plans. Some members of Manhattan Community Board 4 are pushing back on the mayor’s plan.

— Part of the city lost power briefly last night thanks to a failure at a Brooklyn power plant, according to The Daily News. Con Edison stated that a transmission line experienced a failure at approximately 11:55 p.m. on Thursday. Social media footage depicted smoke rising from the affected substation near the East River.

— The city’s buildings commissioner, James Oddo, suspended an engineer from inspecting exteriors after a Bronx building collapsed Monday, Gothamist reports. Witnesses claimed that workers were jackhammering and removing bricks from a ground-floor support column at the building just before the collapse.

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