Christie’s Real Estate accused of discrimination in power brokers’ ugly divorce

Contract dispute between Brian and Kate Meier makes claims of domestic violence

Christie’s Faces Discrimination, Retaliation Allegations

Brian & Katharine Meier (Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal with Getty and Christie’s International Real Estate)

A divorce between two top agents associated with Christie’s International Real Estate Group LLC and Berkshire Hathaway is now getting even messier, involving allegations of domestic violence and withheld commissions. 

Katharine Meier, the soon-to-be ex-wife of her former business partner and fellow Christie’s Real Estate broker Brian, claims in a lawsuit filed last week in New York County Supreme Court he was terminated for “abusive and harassing conduct (including sexual harassment) and using improper language,” according to a photo of an email submitted as evidence. 

Katharine alleged Brian, who joined Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices of New York in September, attacked her twice in the last two years — incidents she claims in the complaint Christie’s Real Estate was aware of. In her lawsuit, Katharine claims that Christie’s Real Estate punished her for reporting the alleged violence by terminating her, thereby violating New York City Human Rights laws. 

Also at the heart of Katharine’s claims is Meier Estates and Ventures LLC, the business she co-founded with Brian that operated in Texas and New York. 

The lawsuit further alleges the defendants owe Katharine nearly $1.5 million in commissions for more than 60 pending deals from last May through February. It also states Brian Meier “usurped” Meier Estates and Ventures’ business by creating The Meier Team, from which Katharine was excluded, thereby violating non-circumvention provisions in the MEV Team Agreement.

“Christie’s had actual knowledge of the discriminatory and hostile behavior of, economic abuse, and domestic violence committed by Defendant Brian Meier,” states the complaint, adding that the firm engaged in “unlawful discrimination and retaliation against Plaintiff because of her gender and status as victim of domestic violence.”

There was no mention of termination or domestic violence when Brian Meier left Christie’s Real Estate last September for Berkshire Hathaway. Christie’s Real Estate declined to comment, and Berkshire Hathaway executives said they poached the top agent

Brian and his legal team flatly deny Katharine’s claims and provided several legal rulings they say demonstrate the plaintiff has a history of fabricating claims in court.. 

Lawyers for Brian provided a certified no-bill from a Texas court, which they cited as evidence that Katharine’s protective order, and the allegations, had been rejected by a grand jury. 

A no-bill means that a grand jury heard the criminal case against Meier and that at least four of the 12 members found insufficient evidence to charge him with a felony. The standard for indicting a defendant is much lower than for finding them guilty of a crime, therefore a no-bill is usually the end of the case, unless new evidence is found.

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“The fact that this case did not proceed to indictment speaks volumes as to the credibility of the accusation,” said Zena McNulty, an attorney for Brian, in an email. “Unfortunately, Ms. Meier’s perspective of her role in the real estate industry in New York City is only one of the many fantasies she holds about her life.”

Brian said in an interview that he was not terminated from Christie’s Real Estate for sexual harassment. He said he had a separate termination agreement that was not included in the exhibits. 

“The business claims against me are false,” said Brian in a statement last week. “I am currently going through a difficult divorce and this appears to be an attempt at leverage just 48 hours before the court-ordered mediation.” 

Christie’s Real Estate said in a statement that the allegations in the complaint are “baseless,” and it “intends to refute Ms. Meier’s alleged claims.”

According to Katharine’s complaint, Brian attacked her in 2021 and in March 2023. Four days after the latter alleged incident, he filed for divorce and severed MEV’s contract with Christie’s Real Estate, replacing it with The Meier Team. He also over the course of several weeks allegedly locked Katharine out of her work accounts and worked with Christie’s Real Estate to create a rider to MEV’s agreement giving him unilateral power over the entity, according to the complaint. Katharine claims she is a 50 percent owner of the business.

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According to the complaint, Katharine contacted Christie’s Real Estate by email shortly after the March incident, asking to discuss something “confidential”; in a later email, she mentioned that she has “a protective order in a domestic violence case.” A subsequent email from Christie’s Real Estate representatives terminated her Independent Contractor Agreement and her Term Agreement with MEV.

Katharine says she was paid about $460,000 of the commissions she was owed for those deals, and claims that she is owed nearly $1.5 million in commissions that were sent to The Meier Team instead of her.

In an email, Brian Meier said Katharine has been paid “about $480,000 since Jan 2022.” 

Update: This story was updated to clarify that Christie’s International Real Estate Group LLC, an independently owned entity, was the subject of the lawsuit.