A reclusive man who had lived alone for over 30 years was paid an estimated $17 million to move out of a rent-controlled apartment in New York. By far the most expensive payment ever made to relocate a tenant. Apparently, the man’s apartment was extremely damp, very cluttered, and cramp, but still, he refused to move out. Given his apartment was located on top of a New York hotel, developers were eager for him to move out.
Herbert Sukenik was part of four elderly men who refused for years to move out of their rent-controlled apartments. By law, it meant that developers had to buy them out of their homes if they wanted them to move out. After real estate developers Zeckendorf brothers bought the building for $400 million in 2004, they were eager to turn the property into an exclusive block of apartments focused on celebrities.
Eventually, they were able to develop them into the famous block at 15 Central Park West, home to figures such as Denzel Washington or Sting. However, it wasn’t easy for them to make this property happen. Apparently, Mr. Sukenik refused to sign an agreement for 2 years, even though his 350 square foot room was covered in mold. The brothers tried issuing him multi-million cheques, but nothing would get him to budge.
The 73-year-old proved to be extremely stubborn and also very smart. Consequently, he was able to get the brothers to agree to a huge payout plus relocating him into a replacement home. Even the replacement home is estimated to have been worth $2 million. And he only had to pay them $1 per month in rent.
Will Zeckendorf has even gone on record to say that dealing with Sukenik was a nightmare. He describes Sukenik as being highly intelligent, holding multi PhDs but being very embittered and disconnected from the wider society. Zeckendorf has not given any exact relocation amounts but did confirm it was the biggest payout to relocate a New York tenant ever. It seems strange to ask for so much money given Sukenik had no known family or relatives. Maybe it was just his way of sticking it to the man, and showing that stubbornness does eventually pay off.