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  • Writer's pictureAndre Watson

Slifka family still feuding over Madison Avenue office years after sale

Scions sue trustee for $37M, alleging “tainted” sale improperly benefited their aunt

Slifka Asset Management's Randy Slifka with 477 Madison Avenue (Getty, RFR)

Aby Rosen’s $258 million purchase of 477 Madison Avenue nearly four years ago ended a long-running family feud between the Midtown office building’s sellers … or so it seemed.

Last week, Randy Slifka of Slifka Asset Management filed a lawsuit in state court alleging he and his brother were stiffed in the 2019 deal, Bloomberg reported. The Slifkas seek $37 million in damages from Michael Hecht, an accountant who oversaw trusts for the brothers, as well as their aunt, former fashion editor Barbara Slifka.

The brothers accuse Hecht of allowing the building’s property manager, Shorenstein, to influence the property’s appraisal in such a way that it benefited Barbara but hurt her nephews. The brothers don’t seem to hold it against their now-93-year-old aunt, who the complaint alleges “barely understood, if at all, how the money from the sale of 477 Madison was being distributed.”

That’s a shift from the way Randy Slifka has approached decision-making regarding the 24-story office building in the past. He lost to his aunt in a 2017 lawsuit that challenged her ability to sell the property at all.

In September, however, Randy won a $16 million arbitration award against Barbara after accusing her of breaching fiduciary duties in the sale.

Randy’s grandfather, developer Joseph Slifka, left the building to Barbara and Randy’s father, Alan, upon his death in 1992, according to the suit. Alan then died in 2011 and his interest was divided between his three sons, meaning Barbara had a bigger share than each of them.

Barbara also owned 50 percent of the leasehold, which runs through 2039, according to court records. Shorenstein came along in 2013 and bought a 47.5 percent interest in the leasehold from the brothers, leaving them with 2.5 percent.

In the latest lawsuit, Randy alleges Hecht allowed Shorenstein to access the appraisal process and influenced the reversal of previous appraisals to advantage Barbara while she helped the firm more than double its investment from 2013. The September arbitration decision called the sale a “tainted process.”

The damages and interest the brothers seek in the lawsuit would be split between two trusts belonging to them. Hecht and his lawyer declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Holden Walter-Warner

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