Bitter Tony Shafrazi Sues Landlord for $20 Million After Eviction

The dealer claims his landlord withheld information about MTA construction.

Tony Shafrazi at the 2012 opening of the Keith Haring show at the Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Michael Anderson, courtesy Whitehot Magazine.
Tony Shafrazi at the 2012 opening of the Keith Haring show at the Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Michael Anderson, courtesy Whitehot Magazine.

Art dealer Tony Shafrazi is back in court with one of his landlords, this time filing suit against the owner of his former gallery space, who evicted him this past year, with a plan to demolish the building and construct a 130,000-square-foot development (see The Wrecking Ball Is Coming for Chelsea Building Housing Tony Shafrazi, Lehmann Maupin, and Stephen Haller).

The $20 million suit alleges that in 2003, when Shafrazi signed a 15-year, $16,666.67-a-month lease at 540-544 W. 26th St., the landlord neglected to inform him that drilling was scheduled to begin nearby on the MTA’s extension of the 7 train line. (See 6 Times Tony Shafrazi Has Gone Ballistic.)

Shafrazi is accusing Manhattes Group of tricking him into leasing the building by withholding this crucial information.

His lawyer, Robert Hantman, told Page Six that Shafrazi subsequently spent $3.2 million transforming the former garage into “one of the most brilliant exhibition spaces in New York.” The dealer believed he could renew his lease in 2018, but the gallery is currently homeless.

When construction began on the subway line in 2007, the lawsuit contends, the gallery was “invaded” by air and noise pollution. In addition to toxic dust, the construction also exposed the gallery to dynamite blasts that could have damaged the millions of dollars of artwork housed in the space.

“We are fighting on behalf of Tony and other people in the arts who are being taken advantage of by the landowners,” said Hantman.

The dealer has also been facing a legal battle in regard to his apartment, where his landlord moved to evict him in order to subdivide the SoHo loft into two apartment (see Tony Shafrazi Getting Evicted from His SoHo Loft). Shafrazi is contesting the eviction, arguing that he spent over $1 million renovating the building’s elevator and installing heating and air conditioning systems with the understanding that he would be able to stay in the apartment indefinitely.

Shafrazi first made headlines in 1974 for spray-painting the phrase “Kill Lies All” on Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. As a gallerist, he discovered Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and counts Donald Trump and Larry Silverstein among his clients.

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