MI CASA ES SU CASA: While the legal battle between André Leon Talley and George Malkemus has moved into the discovery stage, a GoFundMe page that had been set up to try to raise $515,872 for Talley has been suspended. The effort had generated $9,645.
The organizer of the fundraising, Akeem Smith, posted that any donated funds will be returned. Smith wrote that “the link still needs to be up, until the refund process is complete. So please don’t donate any more funds.”
Talley and Malkemus became friends 38 years ago and are now divided about the 11-room colonial house that Talley has resided in since 2004. Malkemus, the former Manolo Blahnik USA chief executive officer, and his husband Anthony Yurgaitis are trying to evict the former creative director of Vogue from a White Plains home that was purchased for more than $1 million.
Malkemus, who is Sarah Jessica Parker’s business partner for her signature shoe brand, and Yurgaitis first took legal action last fall in White Plains City Court, claiming nonpayment of “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Talley, who alleges to have had a gentleman’s agreement for the home, struck back with a complaint filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York’s Westchester County in late January. In court documents, he claimed to have made episodic payments totaling $995,558 for a new boiler, to replace the roof and annual landscaping.
Malkemus’ and Yurgaitis’ legal team filed a counter complaint on Tuesday. An attorney for them, Edward David, said Wednesday night, “We’ve filed our answer and counterclaim. We are now in the discovery phase of the case where we exchange documents and take depositions.”
The way David sees it the key points of the case are, “He leased the property. The lease ended by its terms. He became a month-to-month tenant and failed to pay his rent. Therefore, we are entitled under the law to evict him. Nothing’s changed.”
Talley deferred comment Thursday morning to his attorney Erik Weineck, who later declined to comment about the GoFundMe page being taken down.
However, Weinick did comment Wednesday night about the legal battle. He said via email, “The defendants’ filing does not alter our assessment of our case, which will be extremely strong.”
On the GoFundMe page, Smith had posted that Talley had not asked him to start the fundraising, “but I believe it is the right thing to do.”
Smith added, “Mr. Talley is in a big pickle and we should do our best as a community to help him out. As an elder, he is a leader and a treasure and we must look out for him especially since he still has so much more to contribute and knowledge to share.”
Weinick noted Wednesday night that Talley had posted a statement about the GoFundMe page on his Instagram. Beneath a black-and-white photo of a relaxed-looking Talley seated in a tuxedo, he posted thanks for the “outpouring of love and concern. I am healthy in mind and spirit and am quite grateful for the many messages from dear friends and extended community.”
After plugging his memoir “The Chiffon Trenches” to his 319,000 followers, Talley wrote, “The matter we are dealing with is unfortunate, but will be handled by my very capable legal team at this time.”
Talley also told Smith, the people who put up the GoFundMe and those who have contributed, “I appreciate the thoughtful gesture and generosity, but it is completely unnecessary.” The image had 25,104 likes as of Thursday morning.