UES button shop owner wins court fight over 6-inch strip of land
This developer’s lawsuit is hanging by a thread.
The elderly owner of a beloved Upper East Side button shop has won a court battle over a 6-inch strip of land that would have given a Big Apple real estate titan building rights in the neighborhood, according to a report.
Arthur Shapolsky — whose self-proclaimed real estate “empire” is behind some of the largest commercial offices in New York City — bought the four-story building that housed Tender Buttons on East 62nd Street and Lexington Avenue from its 87-year-old owner Milicent Safro in 2019, according to The Real Deal.
He sued her last year, claiming she duped him into thinking the deal included a 6-inch strip connecting the backside of the lot to Lexington Avenue — which would have allowed him to build along the tony Upper East Side corridor, according to the outlet.
Shapolsky claimed Safro told him about the half-foot strip but that he later discovered it didn’t actually exist, according to the March 2020 lawsuit, which demanded back his $500,000 deposit on the property.
But on Thursday, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Phillip Hom all but sewed up the case — tossing Shapolsky’s complaint and ordering that he cough up the $500,000 down payment with interest, according to the report.
Nothing in the contract referenced the six-inch strip and it was unlikely that “a sophisticated real-estate developer with decades of experience in the Manhattan real estate market” would be tricked by the elderly gal, Hom wrote.
The judge also poked holes in Shapolsky’s argument by citing to two cases from the 1990s in which he was accused of fraud and was allowed to keep the down payment, according to the outlet.
Safro ran the button shop for more than 50 years before it closed in 2019, according to The New Yorker.
The filmmaker Nora Ephron featured the store in her 2009 movie “Julie & Julia,” and later described it as a “walk-in treasure chest” for lovers of history, sewing and fashion.
Safro and Shapolsky, who runs Arthur Shapolsky Real Estate, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
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