The owner of a 4,400-square-foot New York City apartment is accusing former tenant Arianna Huffington of trashing the place, leaving bloodied mattresses, gouged wood floors and a very expensive scratched up dining room table. Documentary filmmaker Eric Steel says it took three months to repair all of the damage and is suing Huffington for $275,000 for the trouble. That sounds excessive.
At $32,000 a month, this is not your run of the mill Chelsea loft, and that was no ordinary dining room table. Steel says that even though he told her not to use the apartment to entertain due to the loft's "historical and aesthetic significance," Huffington made copies of the elevator key, let her daughters use the place regularly and frequently hosted parties. Presumably as a result of such activities, virtually every wall was "gouged, stained and otherwise damaged" badly enough to require repainting, and the once pristine hardwood floor was damaged so badly it needed refinishing. The bathtub was stained, the kitchen cabinets were broken, candles and cosmetics had damaged the steel window seats, a mattress had been bloodied — it all sounds unpleasant. And that table. Designed by Steel's famous architect father Charles Gwathmey, the piece of furniture was so dinged up, it had to be shipped back to the manufacturer for repairs.
But it's not like Huffington blasted holes in the ceiling or anything like that. Other complaints included a damaged stove knob and refrigerator door. Aren't these all pretty much symptoms of normal wear-and-tear? Landlords paint apartment walls and refinish floors before a new tenant moves in pretty much all the time — some tenants even require it. That table sounds nice, but maybe don't leave your father's works of art lying in the apartment you're leasing to strangers? The mattress thing is gross. But does all this add up to more than a quarter million dollars worth of damage?
That's up to a judge to decide. Huffington, who moved out of the apartment in January, vehemently denied the allegations in a statement. "Every single claim in this suit is false except the square footage and the address," said the online news mogul. "Eric Steel, who happily renewed the lease twice and visited the apartment multiple times, is holding onto $93,000 dollars in deposits, which he has refused to return." Huffington added that Steel was "obviously trying to extort more money from me by making ludicrous claims." Meanwhile, she's reportedly heading to her very own townhouse on the Upper East Side which she's free to trash all she wants.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.