By Sabina Mollot
Earlier in the year, the owner of Gramercy’s Warshaw hardware shop found himself on the receiving end of a lawsuit by the former president of the National Arts Club, which was also filed against the club.
In the suit, O. Aldon James accused business owner Ed Warshaw of breaking into apartments he controlled, so the club could clear out the spaces, which were hoarded, after he stepped down as president amidst allegations of misusing the club’s money and real estate. At the time, James said he lost no less than $10 million worth of personal property, including items that would have helped defend him in his legal battle with the club, as a result of the cleanup.
However, that lawsuit has since been settled, Warshaw shared this week. A deal was actually reached in July, when Warshaw was away, in which James would agree to the suit in exchange for a settlement to Warshaw of $10.
“I’m still waiting for my ten dollars,” noted Warshaw, although he admitted he doesn’t care about the money. After the suit was filed, Warshaw denied any wrongdoing, saying that although he had done locksmithing work for the club, he didn’t have anything to do with the entering of any James-controlled spaces.
“It just hurt my feelings,” he said this week, “for him to include me in his shenanigans. I’ve known the guy for so long.”
The settlement was actually part of a larger settlement James reached with Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman in July, in which he was made to pay $950,000 to the club. In exchange a number of lawsuits between him, his twin brother John and friend Steven Leitner against the club and vise versa, all ended, according to Roland Riopelle, the club’s attorney.
Over the phone this week, Riopelle explained, “It ended when that settlement went down in July.”
Since then, he said the National Arts Club has been “thriving,” and that he wishes James success in “whatever endeavor he has moved onto.”
The lawsuit was also against the club for what James called a “malicious” attempt by the administration that replaced him to throw him, John and Leitner out of their apartments at the club building on Gramercy Park South.
He said the club’s then Vice President John Morisano had Warshaw break into his apartment and change the locks to a space leased to John James to store artwork. Other items O. Aldon James said were locked up and later destroyed included 25 years worth of day planners and important financial records like credit card receipts, billing slips and some benefactor data.
However, those charges were denied by Riopelle. Riopelle told T&V at the time the only things tossed during the cleanup were items that were “obviously junk” and not paperwork. He also defended Warshaw, confirming the business owner’s story that he hadn’t been involved in the locksmithing work.
“This is like the Japanese horror movie version of litigation,” Riopelle told this paper. “It’s like Godzilla’s tail wiping out the hardware store while battling with the National Arts Club.”
When asked for comment, Barry Felder, the attorney representing James in the case said, “There was a global settlement and Warshaw was included in the global settlement.”
Prior to the settlement, Warshaw said he actually ran into the club’s former longtime leader nearby the club building on East 20th Street. Warshaw attempted to talk to him, but said James got flustered in response. “He kept saying, ‘I wasn’t the guy. I wasn’t the guy.’”