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Sherry-Lehmann landlord gets go-ahead to empty wine from store

A year after the iconic New York fine wine store Sherry-Lehmann was shut down, the landlord has been given the go-ahead to empty wine from the store.

According to the New York Post, the landlord of wine retailer’s Park Avenue store has been granted permission to clear out fixtures and fittings, and leftover bottles of wine, from the store, which has been closed for more than a year.

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 summer.

But 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 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”.

A New York judge has now approved an order of ejectment to Sherry-Lehmann with the store, which has failed to pay US$4.8m in rent. Glorious Sun is now able to retake possession as a result.

It comes a year after the retailer, which had been operating since 1934, was shut by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) after it discovered it was selling alcohol with a lapsed license. As a result of the SLA, a US$5,000 fine was issued, which is still unpaid.

The closure followed a series of long-running issues, including in December 2022, when the drinks business reported that it was in danger of closure as it battled a tax bill of more than US$3 million.

The store already had its work cut out batting off complaints from customers too, who were demanding delivery of fine wines they paid for weeks, months, “or even years ago”, before finally closing its doors last March.

Raymond Fong and Pak Chung are suing Sherry Lehmann over US$800,000 worth of cases of Chateau Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Lafite Rothschild, which they claim they paid for and should have received in 2019.

The store’s legal firm Nixon Peabody filed a motion to dismiss the case in 2022, on the basis that the lawsuit “has no merit” because Sherry Lehmann “offered the customers a full refund of their deposit — which they declined.”

Reports have also claimed that the decision in 2007 to rent the Park Avenue space may have caused difficulties, as it was paying almost US$2m in annual rent for the space, according to the NY Post. Previously the retailer had been at 679 Madison Avenue for 60 years.

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