The Fact Alleged Murderer Robert Durst Owned Your Penthouse Is Actually the Least of Your Problems

The ghost of Durst hangs over this planned gut renovation.

As The Times reported yesterday, it is looking less and less likely that one couple will be able to carry through with their plan to demolish and rebuild their Riverside Drive penthouse, which makes The Observer sympathetic, as one of the previous owners was NYC real estate scion, suspected multiple murderer and movie star Robert Durst.

Durst lived in the penthouse with his former wife Kathleen, who disappeared in 1982, leaving many to speculate that Durst was behind some kind of foul play, making the site of their tragic marriage a place that one would want to change, regardless of the spectacular views.

And that is exactly the case with Robert and Champa Weinreb, who spent $2.75 million on the penthouse in 2005, when they bought it from the former president of the building’s co-op board after he spent a reported $500,000 on small-bore renovations. But the Weinrebs had a plan to tear down the existing apartment and start over—a plan that was met with solid opposition from the co-op board.

So solid is the antipathy toward all of the plans that the couple has submitted that, after six years, the negotiations have broken down into a new argument, a lawsuit over the co-op board’s obstinacy that has reached all the way to the State Supreme Court.

The case is a precedent-maker in the history of New York torts and the subsequent rulings of Justice Carol Edmead will make it either easier or impossible for individual shareholders to file suit against their own co-op beards in the future.

In the meantime, the Weinrebs are left to live in a home tainted by history and one they are desperate to destroy.