It is yet another bitter high-end fashion fight.
Vogue legend André Leon Talley is being dragged out of his $1 million New York home by the former CEO of Manolo Blahnik USA who alleges the former editor is $500,000 behind in rent.
Talley has dramatically fallen out with his former close friend, high-powered shoe exec George Malkemus — who expanded Manolo Blahnik in the US and more recently partnered with Sarah Jessica Parker on her SJP Collection.
Malkemus has now launched legal action against Talley in a bid to get him out of the palatial White Plains property.
Talley, 72, has long insisted that the historic 11-room colonial home, with sumptuous gardens at 75 Worthington Road, is his own, telling telling the New York Times in 2018, “It is my sanctuary.”
But new court papers seen by Page Six allege that the real owners are Malkemus and his business partner and husband Anthony Yurgaitis, who bought the home in 2004 for just over $1 million.
The pair have known Talley for nearly 40 years. Yet on November 12, 2020, Malkemus, “Commenced a summary non-payment proceeding in White Plains City Court … seeking to evict Talley from the home and for a money judgement against Talley in the amount of $515,872,97 representing alleged arrears,” new court papers state.
Talley — who in 1988 was appointed by Anna Wintour to be the creative director of Vogue, the first African-American person to ever hold the position — responded by filing his own lawsuit against Malkemus and Yurgaitis in Westchester Supreme Court on January 25, 2021.
He claims the pair, who were “long-time, trusted friends,” agreed to buy the home for him and transfer the title once he had repaid them the $1,020,000 purchase price.
Court papers claim George Malkemus (left) Anthony Yurgaitis, bought the home in 2004 for just over $1 million.FilmMagic
While Malkemus and Yurgaitis allege Talley is behind in rent, the former Vogue editor-at-large’s filing alleges, “This action arises out of the Defendents’ improper attempt to evict Talley from a home … that is rightfully his, so that they may sell the property.”
He claims that he has lived at the home since and paid back more than the purchase price, totaling $1,075,588, as of January 2020, with his court papers stating: “He has also paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to third parties to maintain and improve the home.”
Ironically, the home features numerous items from Blahnik in pride of place, including a sketch of a shoe by the famed designer himself.
But it is alleged Malkemus and Yurgaitis have now “sought to invoke a never-operative “lease” agreement in order to enrich themselves by forcing Talley from the home, seeking an additional $515,872.97 from Talley as alleged “arrears” and selling the home solely for their own benefit.
The papers state that, “Over time, as friends, Talley and Malkemus assisted each other not only in professional matters, but in personal matters as well … as he rose in the fashion world and found his circumstances frequently changing and demands on his time increasing. “
The papers allege that in 1999, Talley needed to buy a new car but was unable to do so because of “issues with his credit.” Malkemus allegedly offered to buy the car on his behalf using $45,000 in funds provided by Talley.
Then in 2004, Talley was renting a home that developed a mold problem and he needed to find a new place near New York. “At the time, Talley’s work schedule was particularly demanding and he could not obtain traditional financing,” the lawsuit claims.
Instead, Talley’s lawsuit alleges he, Malkemus and Yurgaitis entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” and that Talley would provide a $120,000 down payment and Malkemus and Yurgaitis would “use the down payment and funds of their own to purchase the home for Talley’s benefit.”
“The parties agreed that Talley would exclusively own, occupy and care for the home. It was agreed and always understood that Talley would, over time, ‘pay off’ the balance of the purchase price paid by the defendants at which point title would then formally be transferred to Talley,” the former editor’s legal paper work claims.
“In the meantime, the defendants would hold title for the beneficial ownership of Talley.”
But, “Talley made episodic payments over time dictated by his income flow,” totaling approximately $1,075,558 by January 1, 2020.
The papers detail a highly unusual arrangement that, “while Talley has resided in the home from 2004 to the present, he has made episodic payments to the Defendants that he understood to be equity payments.
“The timing and amount of these episodic payments were based on Talley’s cash flow. … Talley never made these payments to the Defendants on a monthly basis, and was not asked to.”
Talley also alleges in the lawsuit he has personally spent over $200,000 to maintain the home, including replacing the roof and the boiler ad had the windows and shutters replaced, spending at least $200,000 on improvements.
But, “Despite this, in or around March of 2020, the Defendants began discussing with Talley their interest in selling the home solely for their own financial benefit.
“They began asking him to either make additional payments or vacate the home so it could be sold to a third party.”
Talley claims in his filing that this discussion came just before a bankruptcy petition against Manolo Blahnik USA.
“In return for his decades of friendship and trust, on November 12, 2020, Malkemus commenced a summary non-payment proceeding in White Plains City Court … seeking to evict Talley from the home and for a money judgement against Talley in the amount of $515,872,97 representing alleged arrears.”
“Since 2004 Talley has always operated with the understanding the home was his, and that the arrangement could be formalized upon his repayment of the purchase price of the home.”
But, “Because this promise was not reduced to writing, Talley has no adequate remedy at law.” He is demanding he be allowed to continue living in the home and the title be transferred to him.
Talley retired from full-time editing in 2014 and more recently taught classes remotely at the Parsons School of Design in Paris.
André Leon Talley and Anna Wintour sit front-row together at a fashion show 2008. Getty Images
But he is no stranger to drama and recently published a bombshell book, “The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir,” which was critical of Wintour. He described his relationship with her as “in an iceberg.”
When reached by Page Six on Sunday, Talley’s lawyer Erik B. Weinick declined to comment.
Malkemus and Yurgaitis’ attorney Edward David said, “The complaint only tells his [Talley’s] side of the story.
“We have not yet filed our answer or counterclaim which will explain the real story.
“Remember, the initial complaint was for eviction in Greenburgh Town Court. Malkemus and Yurgaitis are the record owners of the house and want to sell it.
“Talley is over $300,000 behind in rent. He is desperate to stay and they concocted their ‘story’.”