Jerry Seinfeld sure has come a long way from being a struggling stand-up comic to trying to avoid paying a real estate broker her commission! Seinfeld and his wife Jessica say that when they called their broker Tamara Cohen to see a townhouse on West 82nd Street, she didn't pick up her phone. But it turns out the Cohen is an observant Jew and was observing the Sabbath. Here are some details from the NY Law Journal:
Cohen began showing apartments and buildings to the Seinfelds' "estate manager," Steven Galistinos, in September 2004, according to the decision. In January 2005, Cohen showed the 82nd Street townhouse to Galistinos. The listing broker for the townhouse agreed to "co-broke" the house with her.
On Friday, Feb. 11, 2005, Cohen again showed the house to Galistinos, who this time was accompanied by Ms. Seinfeld.
On either Saturday Feb. 12 or Sunday Feb. 13, the Seinfelds -- having failed to reach Cohen -- went back to the house on their own. After touring the premises with the owner, they agreed to buy the building for just under $4 million. Neither broker was present for the negotiation.
On Feb. 13, Cohen checked her messages and learned that Galistinos had called her. She then spoke with the listing broker who told her that the Seinfelds and the building's owner had agreed to a sale.
And then it turned out the Seinfelds refused to pay her commission! So Cohen sued Seinfeld, the townhouse's owner, and the listings broker. Supreme Court Justice Rolando T. Acosta sided with Cohen, noting the sales contract. The Seinfelds will have to pay Cohen her share of the commission, which is half of at least $197,5000. The Seinfelds say they didn't know Cohen was an observant Jew, but really, doesn't Jerry Seinfeld make at least $100,000 in interest every day? (Actually, the issue seems to be how the listings broker wants to split the commission.)
Seinfeld's lawyer wants to reargue the case, explaining in legalese that the Seinfelds and Cohen had an oral agreement and since Cohen is not a licensed broker and only licensed brokers can "recover on an oral agreement." Cohen's lawyer says that the Seinfelds, seller and listings broker were being greedy.