Owning a property these days costs an arm and a leg. But when you do get one, you expect absolute control, right? You should be able to bring anyone in and kick them out whenever. So why should it cost $20 million to evict your tenants?

The Zeckendorf brothers wanted to renovate their Manhattan building. However, four tenants stood in the way. How? They were so stubborn about leaving that the developers spent millions to kick them out. But how is this legal? Let’s find out together.

The Birth Of 15 Central Park West

15 Central Park West NYC is famous for its exclusive residential building. This location is the home of top people like actor Robert De Nero and Bob Costas, sportscaster. But its past is directly tied to the biggest eviction in NYC history.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Two developers, Will and Arthur Zeckendorf, bought the Mayflower Hotel. They also got other adjacent lots on the Upper West Side for more than $400 million. What was their goal? These two planned to create NYC’s most exclusive residential building. However, there was a big problem.

Four Stubborn Tenants

The two developers were required to relocate the residents before beginning renovations. This was a legal requirement for the duo as new owners of the Mayflower Hotel. Sadly, the process was challenging.

Source: Freepik/katemangostar

What made the evacuation tricky? Well, the four tenants had a lease on their apartment. This rent made it challenging to remove them and begin remodeling. Shockingly, these people were old and had lived there for over 30 years. But there was a plan.

Let The Eviction Begin!

The Zeckendorf brothers turned to Michael Grabow for help. Grabow was a relocation lawyer with enough experience with these kinds of cases. So, he planned to help the developers buy the tenants out.

Source: The Wall Street Journal/Andrew Hinderaker

The first one lived in the building for 35 years but left after receiving money. How much? A million-dollar check. The second tenant was a show-business man, and he went for one million dollars as well. But the last two were the most interesting.

Discovering Arthur MacArthur IV

The eviction lawyer eventually met the third tenant, who went by David Jordan. However, further investigation revealed his real name was Arthur MacArthur IV. This 66-year-old man was the son of World War II Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Arthur IV was regularly featured in magazines at four years old because of his famous father. This attention made Arthur stick tight with his parents at the exclusive Waldorf Towers on Park Avenue. Later, he disappeared from public view after his father died in 1964.

Arthur Complied and Took the Money

Arthur lived in seclusion for years due to the press and his father’s fans. However, decades passed, and it was time to open up again. So, after some negotiation, Arthur accepted the Zeckendorf brothers’ offer.

Source: Freepik/8photo

He used the compensation to buy a $650,000 condominium near the Mayflower Hotel. He correctly chose that spot since NYC was all he knew for decades. Sadly, his purchase was the last time his name appeared in public records.

Last But Definitely Not Least

Things were looking good, with only one tenant left to go. But this single individual would create the most expensive eviction in NYC history. Who’s he? Herbert Sukenik. This man wasn’t like the other renters. He was the final boss!

Source: NYPost

Sukenik was very intelligent and had a Ph.D. as proof. What’s worse is that he was an unmarried loner disconnected from society. He also wasn’t poor but had independent means. So, how did they Evict him? He made a straightforward request.

‘I Don’t Want Money’ – Sukenik

Sukenik had lived at the Mayflower Hotel for over 30 years. Everyone thought he’d be easy to remove since his tiny apartment looked unpleasant with mold on the wall. However, they were shocked when he declined their money.

Source: Freepik

“I don’t want money. I just want a new apartment with a park view”. But negotiating with this man wasn’t easy. Sukenik knew the value of his block and deliberately waited for the other three tenants to leave. He was a strategist.

Sukenik’s Simple But Heavy Demands

Sukenik would only move if the brothers met his demands. So a broker took him to a 200-square-foot, two-bedroom unit on the Essex house on Central Park South. Once satisfied, the developers had to pay for the place. But the payment wasn’t enough.

Source: Wikipedia

The Zeckendorf brothers had to pay for the new living space and furnish it for Sukenik. The man even asked for free meals by the world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse. However, that was rejected with no protest from Sukenik.

A Sudden Change Of Plans

Everything was set. Get Sukenik his apartment, then begin renovations. However, things suddenly changed. Another lawyer called Grabow explained that Sukenik wanted more than just an apartment and moving expenses.

Source: Flickr/Saint Michael’s College

Sukenik wanted money from the developers. He confirmed that the new demands came after speaking with a lawyer. What’s worse is that the brothers already bought the Essex House condo, which set them back by $2 million. Nevertheless, they agreed on an amount.

The Most Expensive Eviction In NYC History

After a lot of negotiation, they finally agreed on an amount. This money was enough for this cunning tenant. But it was also the highest price for relocating a tenant in NYC History. How much did it cost? They wouldn’t reveal it at first.

Source: Freepik/pressfoto

The Zeckendorf brothers were private about how much they paid to remove Sukenik. Why? No one knows. But, someone with knowledge of the transaction eventually spilled the beans. According to this anonymous person, it cost $17 million to evict Sukenik.

So What Happened To The Brothers And The Tenant?

Ultimately, all four tenants got their compensation. As for Sukenik, his situation was complex. He lived in his new Essex House until he died at 80. Afterward, his riches and estate went to his brother at a value of $9.8 million.

Source: The Real Deal

As for the Zeckendorf brothers, they continued development. The first wrecking ball hit the property just two days after paying Sukenik. Now, their final product has become one of NYC’s most exclusive addresses housing celebrities and public figures.