A nearly five-year dispute between art world juggernaut Pace Gallery and one of New York City’s largest real estate firms, CBRE, was put to bed on Thursday after a Southern District of New York jury awarded the CBRE brokerage $6.3 million in damages.
The lawsuit began in April 2017 when CBRE alleged that Pace had failed to pay them more than $3 million in commissions for advising the gallery during negotiations with the building’s owner, Weinberg Properties (WP), to redevelop the gallery’s flagship space at 540 West 25th Street.
In the original complaint, Stuart Siegel, a broker with CBRE, claimed that Pace’s chief operating officer, Chris Harnden, approached the firm in 2014 for advice on negotiations with WP and the possibility of moving to a new location. The brokerage firm said this resulted in Pace giving CBRE “exclusive rights” to negotiate with its landlord at either its current space or a new location.
Part of that deal stated that Pace would pay CBRE a commission for their help if their landlord performed, regardless of whether they moved to a new location or stayed on with WP. According to court documents, in 2015, after Pace signed a renewed lease with WP, Siegel claimed Harnden told him that neither Weinberg nor Pace would pay CBRE the commission as they had previously agreed.
CBRE and the firm’s attorney declined to comment. Pace’s attorney was contacted but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.