Bitter feud at venerable New York arts club settled

Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:32pm EDT
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former president of New York City's National Arts Club, whose membership roster has included luminaries such as Theodore Roosevelt and Martin Scorsese, will pay $950,000 to settle claims that he misused club funds to lead a lavish lifestyle.

Aldon James was the subject of a lawsuit filed last September by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who alleged that James, his twin brother John and another club member, Steven Leitner, had taken possession of several apartments at the club and filled them with heaps of antiques and clothes, rendering them uninhabitable.

As part of the settlement, the James brothers were permanently barred from serving as an officer, director or fiduciary of any nonprofit in New York state, the attorney general's office said on Wednesday.

The lawsuit accused Aldon James, who served as club president for 25 years, of misusing club funds to pay for travel, expensive meals and numerous purchases at flea markets.

Aside from Aldon agreeing to pay $900,000 to the club and $50,000 to the attorney general's office to cover investigative costs, the James brothers and Leitner will have to vacate the club premises by the end of the month.

The three were expelled from the club last year.

The settlement resolves both the attorney general's action and numerous lawsuits still pending between Aldon James and the club.

The legal wrangling had cast a shadow over the prestigious private club, which overlooks exclusive Gramercy Park in Manhattan.   Continued...