In what the New York Post has deemed a “Trial by Jewry” the two wealthy owners of the Apthorp apartment house, Lev Leviev and Maurice Mann, have agreed to settle their dispute over the building in a beit din, or Jewish court. The problem is that they can’t agree on a rabbi to oversee the proceedings. The Post writes:
“Leviev, a diamond dealer and one of the richest men in Israel, has been pushing for a rabbi from the well-established Beth Din of America to preside over the case, court papers show. Mann doesn’t want one of the rabbis from that group because they, like Leviev, are Orthodox, and he’s concerned that could give his foe a distinct advantage, the source said. Leviev’s side contends that Mann’s pick, a rabbi from a conservative beth din affiliated with the Jewish Theological Seminary, isn’t experienced in complex real-estate matters and wouldn’t be able to work as fast as necessary.”
Leviev accuses Mann of flubbing the marketing efforts of the Apthorp, which the two men purchased in 2007 for $426 million — with plans to convert the rental building to condominiums. They subsequently took out hundreds of millions of loans for the project. The Post reports that the men have until tomorrow to agree on an arbitrator or they “risk one of their lenders declaring them in default.”
The building at center of the dispute is the same century-old Renaissance Revival structure in which Nora Ephron famously paid $24,000 in key money for a then-rent-controlled unit.