Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Valentino sues NYC landlord to get out of 5th Ave lease amid pandemic

June 22, 2020
NY Post
by: Priscilla DeGregory


Fashion brand Valentino wants to break the lease on its chic Fifth Avenue location — because the coronavirus is stopping it from conducting “high-end” business, a new lawsuit says.

The Italian luxury retail and design company says even if the Big Apple overcomes the pandemic, “the social and economic landscapes have been radically altered in a way that has drastically, if not irreparably, hindered Valentino’s ability to conduct high-end retail business,” at the primo shopping locale, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Sunday.

Valentino is asking a judge to allow it to break its pricey lease with landlord 693 Fifth Owner, LLC by the end of the year, despite a contract that is slated to run through July 2029, the court papers say.

Valentino — which leases four levels at the location — initially signed the contract in May 2013, the court documents say.

Since the state “PAUSE” executive order went into effect closing businesses for months — and which is now only allowing them to open in a very limited way — Valentino cannot “offer in-boutique retail sales, or associated services such as fittings … as the company operated before the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawsuit claims.

New Yorkers have suffered major financial setbacks, including high unemployment rates, which has led to a major consumer spending decline — while new safety protocols “have severely impacted brick-and-mortar retail sales, and will continue to do so, indefinitely,” the court filings say.

“Even if such restrictions are eased (at some point), continued social distancing, as well as other limitations, will make it impossible for Valentino to operate its boutique as initially envisioned under the Lease,” the court papers say.

After notifying the owner it wanted to break the lease, Valentino was told on June 19 through a lawyer that 693 Fifth Owner, “would not accept such a surrender, and, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, disputed that Valentino’s obligations under the Lease have been excused, leaving Valentino with no alternative but to commence this action,” the suit alleges.

693 Fifth Owner lawyer Robert Cyruli told The Post, “My client will not choose to litigate this in the media.”

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