Valentino Sued Over Claims of Ditching Fifth Avenue Lease, Damaging Storefront

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The owner of a Fifth Avenue building sued Italian luxury retailer Valentino for $207 million, claiming the company ditched the space with nearly eight years left on the lease and caused millions of dollars in damages to the storefront, court records show.

French holding company Financière Marc de Lacharrière, under the entity 693 Fifth Owner LLC, filed the suit Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court accusing Valentino of leaving the four-story boutique at the end of December with $12 million in damages to the space’s high-end finishes.

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“The building owner tried to work with Valentino during the pandemic with the understanding that these are difficult times,” the landlord’s lawyer, Robert Cyruli, said in a statement. “The expensive, imported store installation was effectively destroyed. My client expected more from a well-known international luxury brand. We look forward to presenting our case for damages in court.”

A spokesperson for Valentino did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The dispute between Valentino and the building owner started in June, when Valentino filed a lawsuit to get out of its lease, arguing that it became “frustrated” during the coronavirus pandemic.

A judge ruled in January that the pandemic did not get Valentino out of its obligation to pay rent, since the state law mandating COVID-19 shutdowns did not supersede the lease.

Despite the suit being dismissed, Valentino still vacated the Fifth Avenue storefront on Dec. 30 and left it in disarray, according to court documents. And, last week, Valentino signed a lease to open an 8,718-square-foot outpost in SoHo.

The owner accused Valentino of painting over pricey Venetia terrazzo marble panels throughout the storefront and in the elevator that left “sizable holes,” according to the suit.

Valentino allegedly owes $6.6 million in back rent since September, and its lease at 693 Fifth runs until July 31, 2029, court records show. The landlord claims Valentino needs to pony up $184 million for the rest of its lease term.

The luxury retailer first signed a 15-year lease for the 14,425-square-foot space with Thor Equities in 2013. Thor sold the building to Fiancière Marc de Lacharrière, owned by French billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, for $525 million in 2016, as Commercial Observer previously reported.

Retail has been battered during the pandemic. Valentino reported a 27 percent drop in sales last year, and dozens of brands have filed for bankruptcy. Retailers have tried to turn to the courts to get out of leases, but many haven’t been successful.

Aside from Valentino’s loss, in January, a judge dismissed a suit filed by Victoria’s Secret against SL Green Realty Corp. to get out of its 2 Herald Square lease, ruling that the pandemic does not void leases, Crain’s New York Business reported.