Ex-raider Edelman fights back over Giacometti loan

Thu May 13, 2010 8:15pm EDT
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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Asher Edelman, whose corporate-raider past was mined for the movie character Gordon Gekko, is fighting back against a New York lender who said he defaulted on loans to buy artwork.

Edelman, 70, accused an Emigrant Bank unit of "oppressive" conduct for trying to hold him in default on $3.1 million of loans, according to an affidavit filed on Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The sum included $2 million to buy "Torse de Femme," by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

In a Thursday interview, Edelman said he is aware of at least two other Emigrant borrowers claiming similar treatment, and that he may pursue a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to defraud and a violation of a federal anti-racketeering law.

"I have paid the bank what I believe I owe," said Edelman, who now runs the Edelman Arts modern art gallery on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "I'm angry. I seldom get angry, but I am."

The bank's spokesman, Charles Zehren, said Edelman's allegations were "completely baseless."

"Emigrant Bank seeks only to hold Mr. Edelman to agreements he has made, and for him to honor all of his obligations," Zehren said. A lawyer for Emigrant did not immediately return a call seeking comment

Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance LLC had sued Edelman in March, alleging it had tolerated three years of "late payments, missed payments, other defaults and collateral sales" before finally declaring an event of default last July.

But in his affidavit, Edelman accused Emigrant of reneging on various promises regarding repayment, and thus preventing him from taking necessary actions to avoid default. He said the bank is now also rejecting his interest payments.   Continued...