Silvio Scaglia and Julia Haart battle over $55M Tribeca penthouse in ugly divorce

JP Morgan calls in $33M mortgage, with luxury home in default

$55M Tribeca Penthouse in Limbo as JP Morgan Calls in Mortgage
Silvio Scaglia and Julia Haart (left) with 70 Vestry Street (Getty, Tdorante10, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Who gets the house in a divorce? The answer for one Tribeca penthouse may be its lender.

JP Morgan Chase is calling due a $33 million mortgage used by Italian business magnate Silvio Scaglia to buy the 7,800-square-foot spread at 70 Vestry Street in 2018 for $55 million.

Scaglia’s penthouse has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, two kitchens, a library, gallery and more than 3,600 square feet of terrace across three floors. Related Companies completed the waterfront project, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, the year Scaglia made his pricey purchase.

The equity locked up in the posh pad — $22 million according to its sale price — is subject to a contested divorce between Scaglia and ex-wife Julia Haart, who he fired as CEO of his modeling agency Elite World Group in 2022. Several lawsuits later, and after years of coverage in the tabloids, the couple is now modeling a costly break up in court.

Both sides are strutting their legal prowess.

“Julia Haart has occupied the penthouse for over two years while refusing to pay any of its carrying costs, in essence, squatting,” said Scaglia’s attorney, Robert Wallack, by email.

$55M Tribeca Penthouse in Limbo as JP Morgan Calls in Mortgage
Haart’s attorney Terrence Oved and Scaglia’s attorney, Robert Wallack

Scaglia and Haart own the penthouse through Freedom Holdings, the parent company of EWG which is controlled by Scaglia and nearly half owned by Haart, according to a Delaware court. Haart lays the blame for the unpaid mortgage at the feet of her former husband and boss.

“Scaglia’s continuing failure to make the requisite payments [is] an improper attempt to deprive [Haart] of the use of her home and business,” Haart’s attorneys, Darren and Terrence Oved, said by email. They accused Scaglia of “spending lavishly on his own luxury travel and vacations.”

The fate of the penthouse could be decided as early as next week, when Scaglia is scheduled to appear in his divorce case, according to his attorney. 

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The upshot for Scaglia and Haart is that luxury real estate bought before the pandemic is selling at a premium today, according to appraiser Jonathan Miller. “Despite the jump in rates, limited inventory has caused prices to rise,” he said of Downtown condo sales and much of the national home buying market. 

One such resale at 70 Vestry came in 2021, when Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen sold their condo in the building prior to their divorce for almost $37 million. The celebrity couple had bought the apartment for north of $25 million in 2018.

Haart is meanwhile mounting a legal battle in New York’s appellate court, claiming Scaglia violated his fiduciary duty to Freedom Holdings by needlessly stripping it of $1.5 million. Haart’s compensation as CEO of EWG was put in Freedom’s accounts, which are held by JP Morgan. 

A year after the couple wed in 2019, an effort to take EWG public flamed out, Bloomberg reported. The romantic descent that followed was captured on the Netflix series “My Unorthodox Life,” which followed Haart and others who left behind strict Orthodox Jewish upbringings.

“Without a prenuptial agreement or children, the divorce will just be about money,” said Adam Leitman Bailey, a real estate attorney who helped represent Linda Burg in her divorce from legendary New York developer Harry Macklowe.

Scaglia and Haart’s divorce coincided with her losing her position as CEO. Afterwards, JP Morgan agreed to defer more than $2 million in mortgage payments on the penthouse, which cost more than $165,000 monthly, court records show. Interest on the mortgage floated at 2.25 percent above LIBOR, a commercial interest benchmark that was replaced by SOFR. 

Related generated more than $540 million from condo sales at 70 Vestry, about $200 million short of its initial sellout price, partly a result of a 2019 bulk condo sale to Ponte Equities which discounted 15 units by more than $115 million from the offering price, according to Marketproof.

Related spent about $315 million to buy and build its 46-unit condo project at 70 Vestry, records show. The amount does not include Related’s own equity investment in the project. 

The mortgage on Scaglia’s penthouse has been in default since May 2023, according to court filings by JP Morgan. One month prior to the default, Scaglia’s new fiance, socialite Michelle-Marie Heinemann, was appointed to EWG’s board, Women’s Wear Daily reported.

“My advice is to leave divorce with as many assets as you can,” said Bailey, adding that, “the more revenge someone seeks, the less money they are going to have.”

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