An article in the New York Times today about the dire straits the Gotham Book Mart has gotten into made this reader's head spin. Only in the world of New York real estate can trouble take such a byzantine form.
Let's take the simple things first. Andreas Brown, the owner of the GBM, owes $500,000 in back rent, taxes and the like. OK. Because of this, his landlords are trying to evict him. Right. Those landlords are Leonard Lauder, the billionaire of the Lauder cosmetics fortune, and Edmondo Schwartz, a real estate developer (who is not identified specifically as a billionaire, so let's play it safe and call him a millionaire).
But, wait. Lauder and Schwartz are apparently the same secret duo that snatched Brown's fat out of the fire two years ago by buying a $5.2 million townhouse at 16 E. 46th Street and letting GBM move in and lease the space a year after Brown sold the Mart's original home a block to the north. Wha? Who? These are the good souls that saved Gotham Book Mart, but now they're the guys kicking it out onto the sidewalk? What happened? Did they have a fit of humanity and are now back to their old selves?
OK, before you feel sorry for these poor bilked little moneymen and the half a mil they lack to line their pockets, consider two important words. One: billionaire. Lauper is a friggin' billionaire. That means billions of dollars. Does he really need that $500,000 thou? And Two: lease. These two save their friend and his treasured shop by buying a townhouse and THEN LEASING IT TO HIM?! Hey, jackasses—you're plutocrats! Don't show your generosity and friendship by being a nickle-and-dime landlord. Just GIVE Brown the building. He's 73, and trying to keep an irreplacable business alive.
Bet you guys dock your kids' allowance when certain chores are left undone.