Every hustle has to end sometime: an artist living in a $1,500-a-month rent-stabilized Tribeca loft has been kicked out of the apartment and ordered to pay a huge fine for renting it out on Airbnb for years.
According to court papers obtained by the Post, Eileen Hickey, 72, has lived at 460 Greenwich Street in a two-bedroom, 1,800 square foot apartment for over 43 years. She was sued by landlord Robert Moskowitz in 2014 for listing the apartment on Airbnb. Hickey, who is a former Guggenheim Museum curator and whose work has appeared in the film Eat Pray Love, reportedly began renting it out in September 2012, and was charging $250 per night, $1,750 per week or $4,500 per month. (Her actual rent was $1,463.79 a month.)
Court papers from the 2014 lawsuit state that Hickey was aware that what she was doing was illegal, because she instructed at least one guest in May 2013 that "if anyone asks about this transient renting subleases that [she] should state that she is Eileen Hickey's friend."
Moskowitz apparently caught on to the scheme when "a subletter from Spain strung up a banner from the unit's fourth-floor fire escape to welcome friends."
"I used Airbnb starting in September 2012 for a total of 85 nights over 10 months to help pay the bills in a brief family emergency, not to earn a living," Hickey told The Post.
In addition to being removed from the apartment, a judge ordered that she pay a record-setting $185,000 fine, which is the highest known penalty in the country for an individual Airbnb host.
"While this individual has not hosted on Airbnb for several years, we do encourage all tenants who wish to share their home to have a conversation with their landlord before hosting," said
Josh Meltzer, head of New York policy for Airbnb. "At the same time, we support the Lentol/Bonacic bill, which would update existing rules around home sharing to mirror subletting law -- allowing rent-stabilized tenants to earn up to the amount they pay in rent. This would ensure more New Yorkers can share their space to make ends meet, while cracking down on profiteering."
Hickey has until June 9th to leave the apartment. "To have no place to go at age 72 is quite horrible," Hickey, who also owns an East Village condo, told the Post.