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The Holdout Tenant Who Squeezed the Zeckendorfs For $17M

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Author (and apartment seller) Michael Gross, promoting his new 15 Central Park West book House of Outrageous Fortune, had an excerpt released in the Post relaying the story of the last rent-stabilized holdout of the Mayflower Hotel, which brothers Will and Arthur Zeckendorf had to demolish in order to build the Limestone Jesus. After the fourth-, third-, and second-to-last holdouts (including the reclusive son of Douglas MacArthur) were bought off with payouts as large as a million dollars, only one tenant was left, Herb Sukenik, "hugely intelligent, a Ph.D., unmarried, embittered, a loner, disconnected from society, and too smart for his own good," according to Will Zeckendorf. Sukenik proceeded to mess with the Zeckendorfs seemingly for his own amusement, demanding a new park-facing apartment and free meals at an expensive restaurant.

Then, David Rozenholc, a noted tenants' attorney, called [Michael] Grabow, [the Zeckendorf's relocation lawyer,] and the moment he started talking, it was clear things had changed. Rozenholc told Grabow that Sukenik wanted more than the apartment and moving expenses. A lot more. Grabow hung up and called Sukenik.
"I thought we had a deal," he said.
"We didn't," Sukenik replied, "and now I have a lawyer."
He went on to confirm that he did now want money — even though he had no use for it, no kids, no charitable impulse, and didn't want to leave it to his brother.
The Zeckendorfs decided to play hardball. They separated the two halves of the building lobby and began demolishing the southern end.
Sukenik's response? "Oh, I love to watch construction."

The whole thing is a lot of fun, and definitely worth a read, as is, we assume, the entire book.
· Hotel hermit got $17M to make way for 15 Central Park West [NYP]
· 15 Central Park West coverage [Curbed]
· Michael Gross coverage [Curbed]

15 Central Park West

15 Central Park West, Manhattan, NY 10023