Queens Divorce Attorney For Contested Divorces and Division Of Assets
A lot of couples divorce, at least in part, because of the stress caused by money problems.
A declaration of bankruptcy following a divorce is a pretty common way to help regain control over one’s finances in a new, single-earning situation.
Wiping the slate clean can clear up debt and free up income to get you back on your feet.
It’s tough on your credit, sure, but it’s often a better choice than languishing in financial straits for years.
That’s how it is for regular people, anyway.
For the very rich, the ways that a divorcing person’s financial picture can appear to change can result in some almost laughable arguments in New York’s divorce court.
So it is for one Harry Macklowe, a man who has spent decades buying, building, and selling some of the choicest pieces of New York City’s skyline, including his famous purchase and eventual loss of the GM Building.
His company, Macklowe Properties, today owns landmark buildings including 400 Madison Avenue, 540 Madison Avenue, Two Grand Central Tower, and the recently completed 432 Park Avenue, the third tallest building in the United States and the tallest residential building in the world.
Macklowe got the land needed for 432 Park Avenue by dropping $440 million on the historic, 495-room Drake Hotel, which had stood on the spot since 1926.
In 2007, Macklowe demolished the building and got to work on its successor.
The first apartment in the building sold in early 2016, bringing in $18.116 million. The most expensive apartment to sell to date went for $44.25 million.
Another fact about Harry Macklowe: Nearly a year and a half ago, the 80-year-old went home to his wife of 57 years, Linda, to share some news.
In particular, he wanted her to know that he had secretly been romancing a French philanthropist, and that for the prior two years, he had even housed his girlfriend, 60-year-old Patricia Landeau, in an apartment at the tony 737 Park Avenue property that he owned.
According to a source who spoke to Page Six, “It was no secret in the building that the woman was Harry Macklowe’s girlfriend, and she’s been coming and going for two years.”
Harry told Linda that he was leaving her, just like that, and walked out of their Plaza Hotel apartment and headed to Patricia’s.
Linda filed for divorce soon after, and in the intervening months, the couple has graced the tabloids repeatedly as they’ve battled over their $1 billion art collection and an assortment of property, including various homes and a $41 million yacht.
The spectacle of a couple of near-octogenarians with way too much money duking it out after nearly six decades together has an obvious appeal, and by the time the couple got to court, they were warned by their judge that the divorce wasn’t going to be pretty.
In August, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Laura Drager predicted that the divorce would last months, and was unlikely to conclude until sometime in 2018.
She told the couple, “What I foresee is a very difficult, extended trial. Your personal lives, your business, your assets, everything will be displayed for everyone to see.”
She may or may not have understood the comical theatrics that would set the tone of the proceedings.
First, Harry went to great lengths to assert that he’s broke, handing over financial disclosures that peg his net worth at negative $400 million dollars.
In case you’re worried about poor Harry’s financial picture, it’s worth noting that in July, he dropped $10.6 million on a property on East Hampton’s Georgica Pond to share with Patricia, to whom he is now engaged.
Harry and Linda already own a house in the area, where Harry has famously feuded with neighbor Martha Stewart.
The new property is a four-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot estate that sits on 2.7 acres and features amenities like a pool, frontage on Georgica Pond, and Atlantic Ocean access across the street.
A nature preserve surrounds it, giving the couple enormous privacy in an exclusive, and beautiful, part of New York.
There were also allegations over the summer that Harry may have been secretly offloading some of the couple’s art collection.
Linda is a trustee at the Guggenheim Foundation, and seems to have been the driving force behind an art collection – that includes works by Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, and Gerhard Richter – that is valued at $1 billion.
Harry’s plea of poverty is rooted in some of the accounting tricks that real estate developers rely on to avoid paying the taxes that normal people are on the hook for.
To counter his accounting, Linda’s lawyers called tax specialist Richard Lipton to stand, where he testified that, “People in real estate don’t pay taxes.”
The way they avoid them is to take advantage of accounting rules that let them cover any gains with earlier debts.
Lipton pointed to Harry’s sale of the General Motors Building to illustrate how this perfectly legal game is played.
In 2008, Harry sold the building for $2.9 billion, which would normally have accrued a $300 million tax bill.
However, as part of the deal, he became a partner in a Real Estate Investment Trust associated with the building, allowing him to assume $650 million in guaranteed debt.
Suddenly, his $300 million tax liability was a more than half-billion dollar write-off.
The couple has sparred in court about each side’s spending habits, including Harry’s lawyer trying to pin Linda down on what he called a frivolous $2.7 million painting that she bought.
Linda replied simply, “He bought a country house,” referring to the Georgica Pond house.
Harry’s lawyer, Peter Bronstein, somewhat incredibly responded, “He had nowhere to live!”
Linda seemed confused by the idea that her husband, a titan of New York real estate, had nowhere to live. “What do you mean nowhere to live?” she asked.
“Well,” Bronstein replied, “nowhere to live in East Hampton.”
Poor Harry Macklowe. Well, for divorce purposes, anyway.
Barring a sudden change of heart by either party, the Macklowe divorce is expected to provide fodder for the tabloids for months to come.
Hiring A Divorce Attorney In Queens
In the meantime, if your marriage in Queens is ending, the experienced divorce team at Zelenitz, Shapiro & D’Agostino can help you.
If you have questions regarding the division of assets in your divorce, or other family law issues, the experts at our firm can answer them.
Call us today at 718-523-1111 for your free consultation with an experienced Queens divorce lawyer.