Historic owners of Sherry Lehmann sued for US$3.6 million back rent
In a bizarre twist in the unfolding saga around NYC fine wine store Sherry Lehmann, the property’s landlord is suing the company’s former owners to settle unpaid rent accrued by its current owner.
The unravelling of NYC wine store Sherry Lehmann has seen its owner accused of everything from dipping into stock for his own consumption to dodging energy bills, failing to renew its liquor license and selling wines that customers had already paid for onto other clients.
Now, the landlord which owns the wine store’s building claims that rent has not been paid on the property since the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, according to a lawsuit filed in the New York Supreme Court last week.
And it’s not just the store’s current owner— Shyda Gilmer — that is being sued. Various previous owners of the wine firm (who have long since sold off their shares and interests in the company) are also being asked to settle the debt.
Glorious Sun, the Hong-Kong-based company which owns the wine shop property on the corner of Park Avenue is demanding payment from the store’s previous owners, alleging that they are “guarantors” on the lease and therefore liable for the rent debt “even if they are no longer around”.
As reported in the New York Post, these former owners include Michael Aaron, whose father founded the wine store in 1934. Despite stepping down from his role as CEO of Sherry Lehmann 16 years ago in 2007, Glorious Sun intends to extract payment from Aaron via the lawsuit.
Also named in the lawsuit is one-time Sherry Lehmann president Michael Yurch, who left the role in 2013, though Yurch told the New York Post he sold all of his shares in the company a decade ago and has had “nothing to do with the business since”.
The East Manhattan store already has its work cut out batting off complaints from customers demanding delivery of more than US$1 million worth of fine wines they paid for weeks, months, “or even years ago”.
Unnamed sources on the store’s payroll have alleged that current owner Gilmer treats the shop “like his personal booze stash.”
Sherry Lehmann is listed in 12th place on the New York State Delinquent Tax List’s ‘ Top 250 businesses’, with a debt of US$2.8 million as of April 2023. If the unpaid rent is added to this sum, its debt will be significantly larger.