MANHATTAN (CN) – Arianna Huffington’s landlord sued the media diva for $275,000, claiming she damaged his furnished, $32,000-a-month loft on West 17th Street, handed out keys to it like candy, and skipped out on her last utility bill.
Eric Steel sued Huffington for breach of sublease, in New York County Court. The 4,400-square-foot loft is in the 200 block of West 17th Street.
“The apartment and much of its contents were designed by plaintiff’s father, Charles Gwathmey, a world-renowned architect,” Steel says in his complaint. “The apartment’s historical and aesthetic significance has been recognized in numerous publications such as the New York Times Magazine.
“When the parties began discussions concerning Huffington subleasing the fully furnished apartment, plaintiff particularly stressed to Huffington that the apartment could not be used for business functions or large parties. Much of its contents were irreplaceable, such as the Gwathmey-designed dining room table.
“Huffington promised that the apartment would not be used for any corporate events or social events other than small dinners.”
Steel claims that on May 10, 2011 Huffington signed a sublease which “initially was to end on March 9, 2011,” [sic]. “Subsequently, the sublease was extended to Jan. 9, 2013, and the monthly rent was increased to $32,000 a month,” the complaint states.
Steel then lists Huffington’s responsibilities under the lease, including limiting guests in the “pristine” apartment to 12.
Alas, he says. By the time she moved out “Huffington caused substantial damage to the apartment and its furnishings including, but not limited to, the following:
“a. Virtually all of the walls of the apartment were gouged, stained and otherwise damaged by clothing racks, furniture, luggage and general carelessness, requiring the entire the apartment to be repainted.
“b. The wood floors were scratched, punctured and gouged and had to be entirely refinished.
“c. The stone floors in the kitchen and guest bathroom had to be professionally cleaned and resealed because of extensive staining.
“d. The master closet was so scratched it had to be refinished.
“e. Cabinetry throughout the apartment had to be repaired.
“f. The finish of the steel window seats and steel ledges were wrecked by candles and glasses placed on them and from chemicals from cosmetics that were stored on top of them.
“g. The Gwathmey-designed, custom-made dining room table was damaged and scratched and the finish compromised. It had to be crated, hoisted out of the apartment and repaired by the original manufacturer.
“h. The coffee table was covered in rings and spills and had to be refinished.
“i. The queen mattress and pillow top were bloodstained and had to be replaced.
“j. Because Huffington made innumerable copies of the elevator lock for persons coming into and living at the apartment, the elevator locks had to be replaced.
“k. Dishwasher racks, stove knobs and a refrigerator drawer were broken and had to be replaced.
“Huffington breached the Sublease and Rider in numerous respects including the following:
“a. Huffington failed to take good care of the apartment and its furnishings and furniture.
“b. Huffington allowed the apartment to be used for unlawful purposes, including numerous large parties.
“c. Huffington was not the sole occupant of the apartment. Her daughters and others resided in the apartment for substantial periods. Additional beds were placed in the office and den.
“d. Huffington failed to abide by the rules of the cooperative.
“e. Huffington failed to pay the utility bill for December 2012.
“Because of the extensive work needed to repair the apartment, plaintiff has not been able to reside in or rent the apartment for approximately three months and is entitled to damages for his loss of use and occupancy.”
Steel seeks “more than $275,000” for breach of contract and negligence.
He is represented by John Reichman, with Wachtel Masyr & Missry.
Huffington responded to the lawsuit with this statement through her spokesman, Rhoades Alderson: “Every single claim in this suit is false except the square footage and the address. Eric Steele, who happily renewed the lease twice and visited the apartment multiple times, is holding onto $93,000 in deposits, which he has refused to return. He is obviously trying to extort more money from me by making ludicrous claims to the NY Post. It won’t work.”
The New York Post posted a story about Steel’s lawsuit on its web page this morning at 1:44.
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