Meet Andrei Vavilov! Litigious Plaza Penthouse Buyer (Inadvertently) Revealed

plaza1 Meet Andrei Vavilov! Litigious Plaza Penthouse Buyer (Inadvertently) RevealedThat mysterious Plaza buyer who is awfully upset about his $53.5 million triplex penthouse at The Plaza (and its "unappealing drainage grates") isn’t so mysterious anymore. According to an email mistakenly sent to The Observer, the buyer is buzz-cut Russian financier Andrei Vavilov, a hedge fund maverick who became a deputy finance minister under Yeltsin in 1992, survived an assassination attempt in a Kremlin parking lot in 1996, made a fortune in Russian oil in 2002, and earned his first Times profile last year.

He’s suing The Plaza’s developer, El-Ad, to get back his teeth-rattling $10.7 million deposit on a two-unit penthouse, claiming to be the victim of a bait-and-switch. (The lawsuit also asks for damages "believed to exceed $20,000,000.") When this reporter asked El-Ad for a quote on the lawsuit, a spokesperson sent a six-sentence statement as an email attachment; the statement itself refers to the would-be buyer anonymously, though the attachment is titled with Mr. Vavilov’s surname.

Y. David Scharf, the buyer’s attorney, could not be reached for comment. But in an interview earlier this morning, he said: "If they were to give us our deposit back, we would obviously take it back. My client’s a businessman; we make rational business decisions. But, otherwise, my client is prepared to see this thing through."

Why, then, ask for $20 million in damages? "Let me give it to you straight," Mr. Scharf said. "We want our deposit back with interest–which is by this point about $11 million–plus out-of-pocket expenses for the legal fees, for the architectural and design fees, the cost of financing, and any additional damages that we suffered as a result of not being able to buy other apartments that have appreciated in value."

Later he referred to his client in that odd third-person plural: "For our client," he said, "this is a manner in which they feel they have been wronged, and they want people to know there has been a wrong perpetrated."

El-Ad’s statement, in full, said: "The lawsuit filed by the purchaser of two penthouses at The Plaza is baseless at its core. Its meritless allegations are aimed at camouflaging the purchaser’s failure to meet his legal obligations to close. The apartments as delivered are the apartments as described on the plans he reviewed and the contract he signed. Because the purchaser has, for some reason, changed his mind and decided not to close, does not alter the facts. We have an iron-clad contract which we are confident will be upheld by the courts. The Plaza is all but sold out and closings are proceeding as scheduled for some of the most highly regarded and sought after residences in the world."

Article continues below
More from Politics
STAR OF DAVID OR 'PLAIN STAR'?   If you thought "CP Time" was impolitic, on July 2 Donald Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a Star of David on top of a pile of cash next to Hillary Clinton's face. You'd think after the aforementioned crime stats incident (or after engaging a user called "@WhiteGenocideTM," or blasting out a quote from Benito Mussolini, or...) Trump would have learned to wait a full 15 seconds before hitting the "Tweet" button. But not only was the gaffe itself bad, the attempts at damage control made the BP oil spill response look a virtuoso performance.  About two hours after the image went up on Trump's account, somebody took it down and replaced it with a similar picture that swapped the hexagram with a circle (bearing the same legend "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!"!). Believe it or not, it actually got worse from there. As reports arose that the first image had originated on a white supremacist message board, Trump insisted that the shape was a "sheriff's star," or "plain star," not a Star of David. And he continued to sulk about the coverage online and in public for days afterward, even when the media was clearly ready to move on. This refusal to just let some bad press go would haunt him later on.
Donald Trump More Or Less Says He’ll Keep On Tweeting as President