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(Gothamist)   How one crazy, old, unemployed Ph.D turned his rent stabilized Manhattan hovel into $17 million   (gothamist.com ) divider line
    More: Hero, Ph.D., Manhattan, Herb Sukenik, Central Park West, Mayflower Hotel, Central Park South, MRIs, Mayflower  
•       •       •

26869 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Mar 2014 at 9:22 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



Voting Results (Smartest)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

2014-03-02 09:42:02 PM  
9 votes:

KAVORKA: Come on, there ought to be a rule where they can give him 10 years in a rent-free, comparable apartment.  Or something like that.  He basically extorted them, how does this help anybody except him?


It always make me happy to see a little grifter fark a big grifter.
2014-03-02 10:22:50 PM  
7 votes:
I don't see why there should be any hate for this guy at all.  He played the game like a master and got a nice little payday from some douche bag Manhattan real estate developers who will just pass the cost along to their ultra rich clients who won't even notice.
2014-03-02 09:56:32 PM  
7 votes:

Mentat: InterruptingQuirk: Developer boohoo "this old guy is too smart for his own good"

Old guy:

[img.fark.net image 345x203]

No kidding.  It sounds like he was exactly smart enough for his own good.


Actually, from the sound of things, it had nothing to do with what was good for him.  He had plenty of money already, no family to give the new money to, and nothing really to do with it.  He toyed with the developers because he was bored and pissed off that he didn't get free dinner.  That's it.  The developers had the really bad luck to be the only entertainment in a bored, angry, clever dude's life.
2014-03-02 09:42:34 PM  
4 votes:
Also: Gothamist excerpted (read: copied) most of the article from the NYPost:

http://nypost.com/2014/03/02/hotel-hermit-got-17m-to-make-way-for-15 -c entral-park-west/

Don't be like Gawker, Gothamist. Nobody likes a Gawker.
2014-03-02 09:51:18 PM  
3 votes:
ilarge.listal.com
2014-03-02 09:45:35 PM  
3 votes:

fusillade762: I'd bet good money this gets turned into a movie soon.


KAVORKA: Come on, there ought to be a rule where they can give him 10 years in a rent-free, comparable apartment.  Or something like that.  He basically extorted them, how does this help anybody except him?

It's not extortion, it's capitalism. Why do you hate America?


It's only capitalism when the big guy farks the little guy.  The other way around is called a felony.
2014-03-02 11:50:43 PM  
2 votes:

StanTheMan: Rent-stabilized tenants in the outer boroughs are increasingly facing malign neglect from greedy landlords

Uh, no, malign neglect comes from landlords who can't earn a return on investment because of rent control, so they don't improve their buildings.

Santa Monica, CA has rent control. All the buildings are run down ugly crapholes. Nearby Westwood has no rent control, and all the apartment buildings are new and beautiful, some with giant gyms and other awesome amenities. You get what you freaking pay for.

Want to see crappy apartments? Go to a rent controlled city.


The non-rent controlled apartments may be nicer, but for someone who can't afford the rent in one of them, but can in the rent-controlled place, it doesn't really matter.

Rent control exists to keep people from being priced out of their own homes.  Yes, they don't actually own the property, but for places like Manhattan where only the 1% could actually afford to own the property, renters need certain protections.  It's in the city's best interests to foster a sense of investment in the community, and long term residents with a stake in the neighborhood are one of the best ways to do that.  If you know that you can easily be priced out of the place you're living the next year, it doesn't give you much incentive to be involved in the community or to try to make it a better place.
2014-03-02 10:53:52 PM  
2 votes:

oldtaku: Hero? This was asshole vs. assholes.


Little asshole vs great big assholes.  Little asshole won for a change.
2014-03-02 10:30:42 PM  
2 votes:
I live in a historic town filled with NYC commuters, so I just came in here to say fark developers to hell.
2014-03-02 10:07:14 PM  
2 votes:

Emposter: Mentat: InterruptingQuirk: Developer boohoo "this old guy is too smart for his own good"

Old guy:

[img.fark.net image 345x203]

No kidding.  It sounds like he was exactly smart enough for his own good.

Actually, from the sound of things, it had nothing to do with what was good for him.  He had plenty of money already, no family to give the new money to, and nothing really to do with it.  He toyed with the developers because he was bored and pissed off that he didn't get free dinner.  That's it.  The developers had the really bad luck to be the only entertainment in a bored, angry, clever dude's life.


In my mind(I know), it seems that this guy just didn't want to move and came up with increasingly more ridiculous requests just so they would leave him alone. The money was the only thing that they cared about and so it was the only way to make them feel anything about this situation.
2014-03-02 08:56:52 PM  
2 votes:

InterruptingQuirk: Developer boohoo "this old guy is too smart for his own good"

Old guy:

[img.fark.net image 345x203]


No kidding.  It sounds like he was exactly smart enough for his own good.
2014-03-02 07:53:03 PM  
2 votes:
Developer boohoo "this old guy is too smart for his own good"

Old guy:

img.fark.net
2014-03-02 06:49:44 PM  
2 votes:
And to think, they could have had it  for the additional cost of 2 meals a week, maybe $200 extra.
2014-03-03 05:35:38 PM  
1 vote:
All I know is that, per right-wing logic, this guy must've created a ton of jobs if he made that kind of money.

Exploiting legislation is fair game in the Bootstrap Job Creator arena, just ask the oil companies.
2014-03-03 04:50:59 PM  
1 vote:

Debeo Summa Credo: MechaPyx: gweilo8888: Marcintosh: Leaves behind his brother Richard (Nancy) and many cousins. -

WAT?
[images.wikia.com image 550x392]

It's not that complicated. His brother Richard had a wife called Nancy.

Actually, belay that. It's not complicated at all.

Well ya never know in this day and age. It could be he had a brother called Richard who's now known as Nancy.

Debeo Summa Credo: This miserable asshole stood in the way if progress by exploiting an extraordinarily flawed law. I'm glad he had such a miserable, lonesome life.

Yeah, damn him for knowing the value of what he had and wanting fair value for it. How dare he not accept his beads and cheap whiskey.

Right. Damn him. Even if you actually believe in rent control I don't know how assholes like him don't fall into the "you're not helping" category.


He's under no obligation to be charitable or help out anyone else, let alone a rich developer who wants to move him out of his home.
2014-03-03 04:35:10 PM  
1 vote:
FTFA: Will Zeckendorf describes Sukenik as "a nightmare. Hugely intelligent, a Ph.D., unmarried, embittered, a loner, disconnected from society, and too smart for his own good. "


Sounds like he was just smart enough, doucheveloper.
2014-03-03 08:00:38 AM  
1 vote:
Too smart for his own good? Sounds like he's too smart for your own good, douchey real estate guy.
2014-03-03 06:48:43 AM  
1 vote:
"hero" tag finally says "enough"! can no longer deal with all the idiot subbies idea of what an actual "hero" is. or try to slide it by as irony, because they can afford $5.00 a month and they are more clever then you. puts 12 ga. in mouth and pulls trigger.
2014-03-03 12:02:22 AM  
1 vote:

That Guy Jeff: I couldn't have come up with a world where owners of buildings can't charge whatever they want for use of their buildings. These little glimpses of places like New York are like windows into alternate realities for me. It seems so incredibly... wrong and counterintuitive to say "So, you OWN this, but you can't use it however you want."


Yeah, it must really suck to live in a place where there are regulations to protect the average Joe from being completely shiat on by the plutocrats.
2014-03-02 11:13:35 PM  
1 vote:

OgreMagi: organizmx: I live in a historic town filled with NYC commuters, so I just came in here to say fark developers to hell.

A developer built what you currently live in.




Yeah, in 1890, as rentals actually, but he did it without knocking down existing buildings, and they were built with a ton of care and attention to architectural detail. They're still striking and in fashion 120 years later.

Developers today buy homes like mine, bulldoze them, and put up cheap condos which blight otherwise beautiful historic neighborhoods.
2014-03-02 10:52:35 PM  
1 vote:
Only in socialist paradise NY can someone with no ownership of private property dictate its use.

/rent stabbers can die in hell
2014-03-02 10:49:59 PM  
1 vote:
Hero? This was asshole vs. assholes.
2014-03-02 10:46:00 PM  
1 vote:

Emposter: Except, as I pointed out, he didn't need or even really want the money. So he wasted between one and two years of the last 9 years of his life living it a construction zone because he was too smart to accept the earlier offer, and held out for an even larger amount that he apparently didn't want or need. That sounds too smart for his own good to me.


Then you don't know what the phrase means.  And yes, he obviously did want it, otherwise he would have simply taken the earlier offer and went on with his life.

I would spend a year in a "construction zone" to gain a profit of $17 million.  This is not self-defeating, crazy, "too smart for you own good", or even unreasonable.  It was a smart move in the long run.  Now he can live anywhere he wants.
2014-03-02 10:44:38 PM  
1 vote:
Good for him.
2014-03-02 10:33:31 PM  
1 vote:
this is an example of how every marriage and government program should have a mandatory 7 year self destruction aspect.
2014-03-02 10:32:50 PM  
1 vote:

Mentat: Emposter: Mentat: InterruptingQuirk: Developer boohoo "this old guy is too smart for his own good"

Old guy:

[img.fark.net image 345x203]

No kidding.  It sounds like he was exactly smart enough for his own good.

Actually, from the sound of things, it had nothing to do with what was good for him.  He had plenty of money already, no family to give the new money to, and nothing really to do with it.  He toyed with the developers because he was bored and pissed off that he didn't get free dinner.  That's it.  The developers had the really bad luck to be the only entertainment in a bored, angry, clever dude's life.

His motives weren't the issue, it was whether he was too smart for his own good.  That usually implies outsmarting yourself, which he clearly didn't do.


Except, as I pointed out, he didn't need or even really want the money.  So he wasted between one and two years of the last 9 years of his life living it a construction zone because he was too smart to accept the earlier offer, and held out for an even larger amount that he apparently didn't want or need.  That sounds too smart for his own good to me.
2014-03-02 10:27:50 PM  
1 vote:

Starshines: I don't see why there should be any hate for this guy at all.  He played the game like a master and got a nice little payday from some douche bag Manhattan real estate developers who will just pass the cost along to their ultra rich clients who won't even notice.


yes, but if you want to go all circle of life the client's money came from some Russian plutocrat who made a mint selling gas to the Europeans through the Ukraine, for which said client was bribing the Ukrainian government and well....look at the news headlines.
2014-03-02 10:23:04 PM  
1 vote:
In other news, you can oink up 17,000,000.00 for a small apartment and still make a profit off of people who want to live in an ant farm.
2014-03-02 10:22:55 PM  
1 vote:

StanTheMan: Uh, no, malign neglect comes from landlords who can't earn a return on investment because of rent control, so they don't improve their buildings.


How many do you own?  Are you speaking from first hand experience?
The common tactic in these areas is for landlords to do anything they can to drive residents out.  So leaving the building as craphole as possible becomes a mark of pride for them.
2014-03-02 10:13:49 PM  
1 vote:

semiotix: KAVORKA: Come on, there ought to be a rule where they can give him 10 years in a rent-free, comparable apartment.  Or something like that.  He basically extorted them, how does this help anybody except him?

All you ever hear about rent-control laws are the 90-year-old weirdos living in broom closets in trillion-dollar buildings and paying 38¢ a week. The abuses go as much in the other direction as with any other law, which is to say that the people who can buy and sell entire blocks of Midtown generally do a little better than the people who signed leases in the 1940s.

So the short answer as to why they don't make "common-sense" adjustments to rent-control laws (and I agree your idea is perfectly sensible) is that we don't really live in a common-sense world, especially where Manhattan real estate is concerned. Probably any attempt to reform the law would end it completely.


I explained it in a post above.  The original rent control laws the Tea-Party derp-o-sphere loves to bring up as the norm in NYC were superseded by rent stabilization laws decades ago.   There are very few people living in apartments under the old rent control rules because, as you've pointed out,  those people have a median age of 107.  They find some geezer or biddy living in an apartment they leased in 1937 on which they are paying $47 a month in rent the Teahadists go ape-shiat about the injustice of it all.  Meanwhile, down on Wall St, the recent trillion dollar swindle is help up as an example of shrewd business.
2014-03-02 10:11:50 PM  
1 vote:

nytmare: He'll die in three weeks and the developers will be all "AWW DAMN IT".


He made it seven years.
2014-03-02 10:07:44 PM  
1 vote:
Someone who has no delusions whatsoever must seem crazy to most people (obviously Subby).
2014-03-02 10:06:16 PM  
1 vote:

KAVORKA: Come on, there ought to be a rule where they can give him 10 years in a rent-free, comparable apartment.  Or something like that.  He basically extorted them, how does this help anybody except him?


All you ever hear about rent-control laws are the 90-year-old weirdos living in broom closets in trillion-dollar buildings and paying 38¢ a week. The abuses go as much in the other direction as with any other law, which is to say that the people who can buy and sell entire blocks of Midtown generally do a little better than the people who signed leases in the 1940s.

So the short answer as to why they don't make "common-sense" adjustments to rent-control laws (and I agree your idea is perfectly sensible) is that we don't really live in a common-sense world, especially where Manhattan real estate is concerned. Probably any attempt to reform the law would end it completely.
2014-03-02 10:03:31 PM  
1 vote:
New York City rental control laws are beyond stupid.  At one time, Santa Monica (California) came close, but I don't think anyone can ever match the NYC stupidity.
2014-03-02 10:02:32 PM  
1 vote:
In the movie version John Malkovitch will play the crusty hermit. But we'll need a young Hispanic maid with a tragic back story who softens his rough edges and makes him see the beauty in life. Somebody get Demi Lovato on the phone.
2014-03-02 09:53:42 PM  
1 vote:
He'll die in three weeks and the developers will be all "AWW DAMN IT".
2014-03-02 09:53:19 PM  
1 vote:

grumpyoldmann: I thought rent control was a way to have affordable housing for poor mugs. It doesn't sound like the tenant deserved to be in rent control housing to start with.


I don't think he was covered under rent control, it was rent stabilization, very different rules that superseded rent control.  There are very few apartments in NYC still covered under the old rent control laws.
2014-03-02 09:50:00 PM  
1 vote:
I thought rent control was a way to have affordable housing for poor mugs. It doesn't sound like the tenant deserved to be in rent control housing to start with.
2014-03-02 09:44:01 PM  
1 vote:
I'd bet good money this gets turned into a movie soon.


KAVORKA: Come on, there ought to be a rule where they can give him 10 years in a rent-free, comparable apartment.  Or something like that.  He basically extorted them, how does this help anybody except him?


It's not extortion, it's capitalism. Why do you hate America?
2014-03-02 09:43:45 PM  
1 vote:
I don't think we are to look at him as a hero.   He's a millionaire, and I believe here on fark that millionaires are bad and to be vilified.

Tear this person down and sick the tax man on him.
2014-03-02 09:37:57 PM  
1 vote:
So is he some opportunistic NIMBY blocking development or is he a champion of the people for shaking down some housing developer?

I can't identify any good guys here.
2014-03-02 09:36:10 PM  
1 vote:
And the winner is.....the lawyers!!!
2014-03-02 09:30:49 PM  
1 vote:
So being a bitter old douchebag with a good memory can get you millions of dollars?

I can't wait to grow old!
 
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