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In the legal drama surrounding billionaire mogul Sumner Redstone, it seems that with each lawsuit settled, two more are filed.
The latest battle is set in Manhattan and centers on a $3.75 million apartment in The Carlyle hotel, which Redstone had promised to his then longtime friend Manuela Herzer upon his death.
A Jan. 8, 2015, agreement signed by Redstone and Herzer, which is attached to the complaint, says “to avoid probate and for other reasons of convenience” the two would be listed as joint tenants on the title.
“Sumner is providing all of the consideration for the purchase of the Apartment and does not intend to make a current gift to Manuela,” states the agreement. “Manuela acknowledges that notwithstanding that the Apartment is held in Sumner and Manuela’s names as joint tenants with right of survivorship, until Sumner’s death, the Apartment belongs exclusively to Sumner.”
After more than a year of court battles between Herzer and various members of the Redstone family, the patriarch is suing her — and The Carlyle itself — to make sure she doesn’t get the property when he dies. According to the complaint filed Tuesday by attorneys Howard Elman and Judd Spray, Herzer is refusing to relinquish her rights to the apartment.
Redstone is asking the court for a determination of ownership and wants The Carlyle to issue a new lease solely in his name. Alternatively, he’s asking for an order to sell the apartment and divide the proceeds according to the equities. He argues, as he paid the purchase price, transaction costs and monthly maintenance payments, he’s entitled to 100 percent of the proceeds from any sale.
This comes on the heels of an elder abuse claim against both Herzer and Sydney Holland that seeks to reclaim $150 million worth of “gifts” Redstone had given to them.
Herzer’s attorney Ronald Richards sent The Hollywood Reporter a statement via email Wednesday morning, saying the title means they are both owners until one of them dies and likening the situation to that of asking a spouse to give up a home you bought together.
“This decision was made many years ago when Sumner Redstone was competent and was in charge of his own decisions,” Richards writes. “The letter she signed was for tax purposes only and has no legal effect whatsoever as to title. When Sumner Redstone was competent, he had his fleet of attorneys and accountants draft the title documents. She will never give her apartment back and he will never testify in court contrary to that position.”
Richards also says the action is a “poorly orchestrated” move by the mogul’s daughter Shari Redstone — who is currently at the center of a $100 million spying lawsuit from Herzer.
“Sumner Redstone continues to be victimized by his daughter and attorneys she employs,” says Richards. “I am very confident we won’t be seeing him participate in any aspect of this case. It is the modern-day Wizard of Oz.”
Redstone’s attorneys sent THR a comment in response to Richards’ statement Wednesday morning: “Sumner bought the apartment and it belongs to him. Period. Herzer agreed in writing that it would belong solely to Sumner until he dies, and that he did not intend to make a present gift to her. Unfortunately for her, New York law is clear that there was no enforceable gift and that Sumner is entitled to change his mind.”
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