Hermit Herbert Sukenik 'paid £10 million' to move out of 'mould-covered' New York room

Book reveals elderly resident received a huge payout from developers to move from a room he had lived in for 30 years

Heather Saul
Monday 03 March 2014 12:45 GMT
Hermit Herbert Sukenik 'paid £10 million' to move out of 'mould-covered' New York room

A reclusive man was paid a reported $17 million (£10.2 million) by developers to leave his damp, cluttered and cramped apartment at the top of a New York hotel, a new book has claimed.

Herbert Sukenik was one of four elderly men refusing to move out of their rent controlled residences in the Mayflower Hotel after prominent real estate developers the Zeckendorf brothers purchased the building for $400 million (£239 million) in 2004.

The hotel was eventually transformed into 15 Central Park West, an exclusive block of apartments now home to famous figures such as Denzel Washington and Sting.

Unmarried Mr Sukenik reportedly refused to move out of his "mould-covered" 350-square-foot room at the top of the hotel for two years, forcing the brothers to issue "million-dollar cheques" to him and three other elderly residents, according to the book House Of Outrageous Fortune by Michael Gross.

The type of lease held by the four men allegedly prevented them from being evicted by the developers, who were legally responsible for buying them out.

The 73-year-old proved so stubborn he eventually received the biggest multi-million dollar pay-out and a replacement home allegedly worth $2 million (£1.19m). In return, Mr Sukenik paid the Zeckendorf's $1 (60p) a month in rent.

“Herbert Sukenik's profile was a nightmare,” Will Zeckendorf is quoted as saying. “Hugely intelligent, a PhD, unmarried, embittered, a loner, disconnected from society and too smart for his own good. He was not a poor man; he had independent means.”

Mr Zeckendorf would not reveal the sum paid to relocate Mr Sukenik but said it was "by far the highest price ever paid to [relocate] a single tenant in the city of New York."

A source put the price at $17 million, The New York Post has reported.

All four residents had lived in the apartments for up to 35 years. One was 98 and had family living in Mexico. Another male resident was aged in his 90s, and both received multi-million dollar payouts.

The third resident, Arthur MacArthur IV, the son of the famous World War II general Douglas MacArthur received a pay out of just $650,000 (£387,000), the book claims.

Mr Sukenik passed away in the Essex House apartment at the age of 80.

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