When hedge fund manager Thomas Sandell decided to rent out his Upper East Side townhouse, he asked for $120,000 a month. After all, the place is just steps from Central Park, has 14,000 square feet and a backyard to stretch out in (the 2016 listing referred to these figures as “the proportions of an embassy”), and is designed and decorated as an homage to a previous owner, Gianni Versace. Also, he spent $30 million on the house in 2005, so it seemed fair.
But as his fellow hedge-fund manager learned at the time, fair’s not always what the market will bear. So when he finally found a tenant, Sandell had to accept just about half what he wanted. Given that they were basically paying fifth-floor-walkup-in-Canarsie prices, then, Sandell’s not sure what the Chetrit family expected.
Rats were found in the ceiling panels in the breakfast room, maid’s quarters, service hallway, pantry, and the heating and cooling system, according to the complaint. Replacing decrepit sewer pipes required drilling through marble flooring and weeks of inconveniences, Chetrit alleged.
"This is a pathetic situation that has compromised my well-being [and] the well being of my husband & staff!!" Chetrit’s wife, Nancy, emailed to Sandell’s attorneys in August 2017, according to the complaint. "I’m not sure if Tom Sandell finds this amusing, but I do not!!"
Surely, these are the sorts of repairs that can be made with the $55K a month the Chetrits are saving on the house’s real value, not that Sandell is acknowledging either rodents or the miasma of sewage.
Lorraine Nadel, a lawyer for Sandell, said Chetrit’s suit is "absolutely meritless."
"We’re going to prove them false in court," she said.