Corey von Furstenberg (r) attends a party at XL Nightclub with director Casper Andreas back in 2012. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
Jan 14, 2016
A Manhattan landlord who rented a lavish penthouse to a man claiming to be related to designer Diane von Furstenberg is now trying to evict him for not paying his rent.
The owner of 496 Broadway says the tenant, who calls himself Corey von Furstenberg, is a con man who owes more than $100,000.
When von Furstenberg, 38, initially rented the Soho unit in November 2014, he was paying $13,500 a month for the two bedroom, two bath unit which has three sky lights, a fireplace, a chef's kitchen and a rooftop deck. The rent was bumped up to $15,000 a month in March 2015.
However, von Furstenberg did not pay the rent and is still living there, refusing to move, according to court papers.
"It appears that (he) adopted the surname von Furstenberg to replace his given name and suggest a relationship with Diane von Furstenberg — when there is no such relationship," attorney Joseph Lee Matalon said in court papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The landlord wants the courts to break the lease, evict von Furstenberg and order him to pay what he owes.
Matalon said the landlord thought von Furstenberg could pay so much because his lawyer, Edward D'Alessandro Jr. of Florham, N.J., claimed his client had an income of $1 million from his own publicist/marketing firm and over $4 million from his trust fund and portfolio worth more than $100 million, according to court papers.
In a separate suit filed against D'Alessandro in federal court in New Jersey, the landlord accused the lawyer of fraud, saying he "misled and induced" them to lease the unit to von Furstenberg.
The papers say that when the landlord asked von Furstenberg to provide his social security number for a routine credit check, D'Alessandro introduced himself in writing as von Furstenberg's attorney and refused to provide the number for "privacy" reasons and to protect his client's "personal safety."
Then, papers say, D'Alessandro falsely "verified" his client's income as exceeding $5 million a year from his job and portfolio and trust.
"These were outright lies — there is no such 'portfolio' and von Furstenberg, in reality, has very little income," federal court papers say.
The papers say the landlord relied on D'Alessandro's representations because he was a "licensed attorney who could be severely sanctioned if the information was knowingly false."
In a statement, Matalon said it was not until after von Furstenberg began to "fall substantially behind in rent" that "my client learned that it had been duped and unfortunately, had no choice" but to sue.
Von Furstenberg, who claimed on his website to have represented everyone from Hillary Clinton to Paula Dean, was not available to comment. He took down the website for his company, CVF Group, late Thursday afternoon after his lawyer talked to reporters.
D'Alessandro insisted in a telephone interview that "there's no fraud here."
"It's a landlord/tenant case," he insisted, claiming that von Furstenberg stopped paying rent because the landlord did not provide basic services, like gas, for most of last year.
He said initially the renovated building lacked basic telephone and cable lines and then last May, after city inspectors discovered that the owner had illegally siphoned gas from an adjacent property, the building had no gas for months. That chef's kitchen was useless.
"My client did not have an operating stove until November 2015," D'Alessandro said, explaining why von Furstenberg stopped paying rent.
NYC Department of Building records confirm the gas was shut off for illegal siphoning in May and a new gas burner was installed in November.
D'Alessandro declined to answer how or if von Furstenberg is actually related to the designer, how he came to have such a large trust fund, where he was born or any other biographical details.
"I can't comment on familial relations," he said.
He also declined to comment on other public records which suggest that von Furstenberg was evicted in 2012 from two other Manhattan buildings, on W. 28 St and Riverside Blvd.