Russian financier Andrei Vavilov has backed out of a deal to pay $53,500,000 for a two-unit, triplex penthouse unit in the converted Plaza hotel in Manhattan, and is seeking to get back his $10,700,000 deposit, plus $20 million-plus in damages.


The New York Observer's Max Abelson twice broke the news on this subject in two separate posts on Monday in the paper's "The Real Estate" blog on Monday. Abelson's second blog post on Monday actually "outed" Vavilov as the buyer; his name had been kept secret up to that point. Kudos to Abelson for figuring out that the buyer is Vavilov, although in fairness, he's not exactly any kind of a household name. (Vavilov had gone to contract to purchase the units at the Plaza, which is in Central Park South in Manhattan, under the obfuscating and not exactly creatively named corporate entities Penthouse 2009, Inc. and Penthouse 2001, Inc.)

Why is Vavilov dissatisfied with the triplex penthouse spread? In his 55-page complaint, he cites all sorts of changes by developer El-Ad, including the absence of unobstructed floor-to-ceiling windows, reduced sight lines and lower ceilings than anticipated, the Observer noted. Vavilov, who claimed that he was four times denied access to see the unit before its closing, also called the unit an "attic-like space" in a press release, and specifically called out the building's "large unattractive drainage grates" just outside certain of the unit's windows. (Of course, it's also possible that he realized how ridiculous it was to be spending more than $50 million on a condo unit!) In a statement, El-Ad denied that any misrepresentation had taken place, and said it believes that the "iron-clad" contract that Vavilov signed will be upheld by the courts. Take a look at New York magazine's coverage of the kerfuffle. Stay tuned.