That 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."