Boogie still seething over building-sale litigation
The Aspen Times
Last month’s $27.5 million sale of the Boogie’s Building is history, and so is the litigation that surrounded it.
But the founder and owner of the prominent Aspen structure that housed the popular Boogie’s Diner since 1987 before it closed this spring, said this week that his longtime friend Shlomo Ben-Hamoo maligned his reputation. That’s because Ben-Hamoo sued Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass on April 22, claiming that he found a buyer for the building but Weinglass reneged on paying him commission.
The lawsuit settled and Ben-Hamoo was paid commission by the buyer, Thor 534 East Cooper Avenue, a limited-liability company under the umbrella of New York developer Thor High Street Advisors.
The sale contract, a portion of which was provided to The Aspen Times by Weinglass’ attorney, Raymond Altman of Maryland, said the buyer would pay commission. The contract was signed Jan. 29, Altman said, and Ben-Hamoo’s attorney Matthew Ferguson received a copy of it April 2, Altman said.
“Seller is not represented by a Broker in connection with the transaction, which is the subject matter of this transaction,” the contract reads. “Buyer shall pay a brokerage commission to Buyer’s Broker (Shlomo Ben-Hamoo) pursuant to a separate agreement between Buyer and Buyer’s Broker.”
Ferguson and Ben-Hamoo, reached by phone this week, declined comment about the contract or why the suit was filed.
“We have moved on,” Ferguson said.
Ben-Hamoo said, “I want to get over it. It’s not important any more because what I did was very, very, very good for Boogie. I love Boogie.”
Weinglass didn’t express the same sentiment toward Ben-Hamoo, who was his diner’s first manager when it opened.
He said he hasn’t seen or spoken to Ben-Hamoo since the lawsuit. But when he does, he would speak his mind.
“My first question to him would be, ‘How could you do this to me?” Weinglass said. “Then I’d say, ‘I’d like to punch you in your f—ing face.”
Weinglass, well known for his local philanthropy, said he has give upward of $300,000 to relatives of Ben-Hamoo over the years. That included $10,000 to one of Ben-Hamoo’s children for college, and $21,000 to Ben-Hamoo’s niece.
Weinglass and Ben-Hamoo once were close friends, as were other family members. Some still are. Just the other night, one of Weinglass’ daughter spent the night with one of Shlomo’s daughters.
“The perception is I screwed Shlomo out of his commission,” said Weinglass, 73. “One of the first things I said to Shlomo was ‘I don’t want a broker, I don’t have a broker.’ All Shlomo did in this deal was that the real estate guy in New York called him.”
From there, Weinglass said he dealt directly with the suitor.
“At best for Shlomo was a finder’s fee. He did no work at all.”
Weinglass said he was struggling to understand Shlomo’s motive to sue him since the seller had agreed to pay him commission. He wrote the suit off as “posturing.” Altman, who said a countersuit was being planned before the settlement, said, “I have no clue. It was probably a question of leverage.”
The sale was scheduled to close at the end of April, but Weinglass, upset about the suit, almost called it off.
“Ray (Altman) said, ‘Boogie, don’t let your ego get in the way,” Weinglass said.
Ben-Hamoo received $325,000 in commission, Altman said.
Weinglass, who is in remission from throat cancer, said he sold the building because “I’m tired.”
“The restaurant wasn’t being run to my quality of standards,” he said.
Weinglass’ children, now grown-ups, most recently were operating the diner.
“It’s not my kids’ forte,” he said with a chuckle.