“We regularly have commercial cases, O.K.?” said Rabbi Ronald Warburg, a coordinator for Beth Din of America, who was willing to answer general questions about the process. “It’s nothing unusual, O.K.?” Has he ever seen an argument over such a huge deal? “It’s not necessarily an issue of the amount of money. It’s an issue of the complexities.” Considering that Mr. Leviev is a renowned supporter of Orthodox causes, what happens if someone involved has made a contribution to the court? “It generally doesn’t happen,” Mr. Warburg said, “but if there’s a problem, there’s a disclosure beforehand.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Mann’s choices were the Joint Beth Din of the Conservative Movement, and something called Beth Din Zedek, which the court dismissed because it was picked “from the telephone book.” Mr. Leviev’s lawyers have complained that the Joint Beth Din doesn’t have enough experience in commercial real estate issues, and have said they will ask a State Supreme Court judge to decide on Jan. 14 what kind of rabbi will arbitrate. Time is tight: Apollo has reportedly made the following day its default deadline, extended from Jan. 9.
Mr. Scharf, the attorney for Mr. Leviev, declined specific comment, other than referring The Observer to court filings. Mr. Mann’s attorney did not return emails or phone calls.
CITING AN ANONYMOUS source, the Web site for The Real Deal magazine reported on Jan. 12 that “Mann has agreed to resign as managing partner of the landmark Apthorp condominium conversion.” Later that day, he denied the story to The Times. “I control the Apthorp,” Mr. Mann said, “100 percent.”
“I think,” a longtime associate of Mr. Mann said this week about his friend, “he’s just gotten himself into an unfortunate situation—a project bigger than he was expecting it was going to be. I don’t know if he really knew what he was getting into. He’s a decent, good guy. He tries to do the right thing, that’s what I’m going to say.”
“I can’t characterize him as a good guy or a bad guy,” Mr. Smith from the tenants’ committee said. “There are tenants who are chortling gleefully. My feeling is, we should not be gleeful.” After all, the Apthorp could be foreclosing this week. “That may be worse,” he said, “than frying-pan-into-fire. I am not gleeful.”
Does Mann have any regrets? “You need to put this into perspective of what happened to the economy,” Mr. Herbitter, its president, said. “Every yuppie would be taking his bonus and asking, ‘Is there someone who can get me into the Apthorp?’”