(CN) - Former "Real Housewives" star Aviva Drescher and her husband, Reid, are attempting to shake down a Long Island artist who lent them his work, but from whom they now seek a "commission" for the sale of one of the pieces, a lawsuit claims.
In a complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court, plaintiff Matthew Satz, of Amagansett, says he met Drescher and her husband, the managing member of Cape One Financial Advisors, through a mutual acquaintance, and in June 2013 agreed to install five of his original artworks in their Upper West Side apartment.
Satz says he loaned these works to the Dreschers on a temporary basis and free of charge - other than nominal installation and delivery charges - based in large part on Aviva Drescher's assurances that his works would receive extensive coverage during tapings of her show, "The Real Housewives of New York."
While attending a subsequently filming of an episode, Satz says he met a collector who was a friend of the Dreschers and interested in purchasing one of the five works, titled "Pink Smoke Painting," for $50,000.
Satz received a deposit for the painting, but says he was never able to consummate the sale because the Dreschers wouldn't give it back.
"When Plaintiff advised Defendant Aviva Drescher that he wanted to retrieve the "Pink Smoke Painting" from Defendants' apartment ... Aviva Drescher demanded that she be paid a 'commission'," Satz says. "Plaintiff was shocked that Defendant Aviva Drescher was demanding a commission for Plaintiff's sale of "Pink Smoke Painting" ... and explained that if she or her husband were expecting any type of financial compensation or commission relating to any of the artworks that had been loaned to them then that was something that they should have discussed with Plaintiff beforehand, not after he sold a piece."
Satz says he was then approach by Reid Drescher, who tried to convince him to increase the sales price of the artwork from $50,000 to $60,000, and then give the $10,000 difference to the Dreschers.
"Plaintiff advised Defendant Reid Drescher that ... was not the way Plaintiff did business, that he was not at all comfortable doing that, and that he viewed it [as] being dishonest," the complaint says.
Satz says Reid Drescher's response was, "She (the Collector) can afford it."
Nevertheless, the artist says, he refused to increase the proposed purchase price.
The Dreschers the alleged reduced their demand for payment to $5,000, and said they would not release the "Pink Smoke Painting" until they were paid.
"In light of their dispute and given that the taping of Defendant Aviva Drescher's second season of "The Real Housewives of New York" had concluded (defendant Aviva Drescher has since been fired from the show), Plaintiff informed the Defendants that he wanted to retrieve all of his five artworks from their apartment," Satz says.
Despite numerous demands for the return of his artwork, Satz says, the Dreschers "have steadfastly refused to allow him to retrieve his artworks unless and until he pays them the $5,000 that they have demanded."
"Put simply, Defendants are seeking to extort a $5,000 payment from Plaintiff to which they are not entitled under the law and are holding his five original artworks 'hostage' unless and until he pays them their repeatedly-demanded 'ransom', Satz claims.
Aviva Drescher, who infamously threw her prosthetic leg while dining at Le Cirque restaurant in the season 6 finale of "The Real Housewives of New York" - and has gone on to write a memoir titled "Leggy Blonde" - responded to the lawsuit by telling the New York Daily News that "the guy is a crazy artist. He works out of his basement."
Drescher went on to say that Satz was told he could pick up his artworks by Friday, September 12, but failed to do so.
"He's not operating on a full deck," she told the News.
He is seeking more that $120,524 in compensatory damages and more than $500,000 in punitive damages, a constructive trust over the five artworks, and payment for lost earnings to me determined at trial.
Satz is represented by Andrew J. Weinstein of New York.
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