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The Real Deal: Douglas Elliman Bad Broker

The Real Deal: Marc Held, Partner, Held & Hines, LLP Quoted Re: Douglas Elliman Bad Broker

REBNY to hear appeal of Beame commission case tomorrow.

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Left to right: Manhattan Residential’s Shai Shustik, Elliman’s Stanley Ginsberg, 140 Thompson Street, former New York City Mayor Abraham Beame

The Real Estate Board of New York is scheduled to hear an appeal tomorrow in a long-running commission dispute between Manhattan Residential and Prudential Douglas Elliman.

In April, a three-member arbitration panel dismissed a REBNY complaint by Manhattan residential broker Shai Shustik, who alleged that Elliman blocked his client, Laurence Beame, from buying a Soho apartment so it would not have to share the commission.

Lawyers for Shustik claim a lawsuit that he previously filed in New York state Supreme Court, should have been allowed to proceed, instead of being forced into arbitration. He also claims that critical evidence was withheld in the arbitration case and two members of the three-member REBNY panel should have been disqualified due to business ties with Elliman.

“If the ethics committee gives a determination REBNY is not allowed to have an arbitration of the case, the case goes to Supreme Court, said Shustik’s attorney Marc Held.

“REBNY really came down [and] had tied our hands and blindfolded us,” Held said.

REBNY and Elliman officials declined to comment on the case.

In January 2007, Beame, the great-nephew of former mayor Abe Beame, made a bid for a co-op apartment at 140 Thompson Street, which was listed for $1.495 by Stanley Ginsberg, a senior vice president at Elliman. Shustik, who submitted a $1.435 million cash bid on behalf of Beame, alleges in the REBNY complaint that Ginsberg told him that the seller would be immediately notified of the offer. Ginsberg was not immediately available for comment.

A second offer was made in February 2007 for $1.565 million in cash, however Ginsberg told Shustik that the sellers had received multiple offers and were holding out for a higher bid. A final $1.6 million bid was submitted, but Shustik alleged that the bids were never submitted.

Held claims that evidence, including a “secret” agreement between the sellers, Elliman and Ginsberg, was not handed over to his client as evidence. He alleges that after being confronted by the seller, Tatyana Klibanov, Elliman and Ginsberg agreed to waive their rights to $74,750 in commissions, in return for Klibanov releasing all legal claims against them.

Held also claims that the three arbitrators, Paul Massey, chief executive of commercial brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Group; Brooklyn attorneyTeresa LaBosco and broker Vannessa Kaufman, could not arbitrate the case fairly because at least two of them had business ties with Elliman. Held claims that Massey sits on several boards with top Elliman executives, including the NYU Board of Continuing and Professional Studies. Massey was not immediately available for comment.

He also claims that Kaufman, former president of Andrew Emmet & Co., and currently a senior vice president at Sotheby’s International Realty, served on both the ethics committee, which sided with the plaintiffs, and the arbitration panel, which should have included different participants. Kaufman was not immediately available for comment.

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