A police call last month about a domestic disturbance in Palm Beach, Florida threatens to rock a New York real estate empire controlled by two feuding brothers, The Post has learned.
Around 10 p.m. on Dec. 9, Palm Beach police responded to a 911 call from the waterfront estate of 66-year-old Abraham Haruvi, who along with his brother Arthur owns more than 30 buildings housing 500 apartments in New York City, mostly located on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Giovana Stephenson, Abe Haruvi’s wife of 14 years, stood outside the 9,700-square-foot Regency-style mansion – complete with a swimming pool, outdoor fountains and its own private dock just four blocks from the Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club – waiting for police with the couple’s two children, according to a police report obtained by The Post.
When the cops arrived, she showed an officer scratches that left ‘redness’ on her chest, saying her husband ‘scratched and kicked’ in an ensuing argument after she accused him of “hiding something on her phone,” according to the report. Haruvi was led outside in handcuffs and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, according to the report. He was then ordered to move out and cease all contact with his wife, according to a restraining order obtained by The Post.
Now the incident is set to make waves in Manhattan, as Haruvi faces a costly divorce that could finally mean the collapse of a $200 million Big Apple real estate empire that has weathered multiple lawsuits between Abe and Arthur Haruvi. According to court documents, the two accused each other of stealing from the business – which their father, Jacob, had built – in addition to mismanagement and neglect.
After the Dec. 9 incident, Stephenson hired Joel Weissman – a high-powered Palm Beach divorce attorney who practices martial arts in his spare time and has been nicknamed “Mad Dog” due to his aggressive style in the courtroom. hearing, according to a Town & Country report. . His clients include billionaire Red Sox owner John Henry and late New York Yankees partner Jack Satter.
That, in turn, could force Abe Haruvi to sell his stake in the New York real estate portfolio because “he doesn’t have a lot of cash lying around”, according to a source familiar with the matter. About 40% of the company’s rentals were vacant at the height of the pandemic, triggering a cash crunch that was only resolved after Arthur filed a lawsuit against Abraham in July, forcing him to retire. agree to a debt refinancing deal, sources say.
Stephenson declined to comment, but Weissman told the Post that the couple’s marriage deal could cost Haruvi $8 million plus the Palm Beach mansion., which they bought in 2011 for $7.8 million, along with other assets. The amount will likely increase with battery charge, which could trigger a so-called “bad boy” clause in the prenup, Weissman added. State prosecutors filed battery charges against Abe Haruvi on January 22 with a hearing scheduled for late March. Haruvi has pleaded not guilty, according to his attorney.
“A divorce will happen,” Weissman said. “From my client’s perspective, marriage is not salvageable.”
While the Haruvi brothers kept a low profile despite the size of their holdings, they both came under fire in the late 1990s for allegedly trying to evict rent-stabilized tenants, claiming they needed the apartments for themselves- themselves or for family members, according to reports. at the time. Around 35% of their apartments are rent-stabilized.
During the pandemic, their income was reduced and their $53 million mortgage defaulted. Arthur had arranged to refinance the mortgage while taking advantage of historically low interest rates, but Abe initially refused to sign the papers ‘for no reason other than to pursue a personal vendetta’, according to the complaint filed in July .
Out of exasperation, according to a source, Arthur sued his brother to coerce him into signing.
In an earlier lawsuit in 2020, Arthur accused Abe of embezzling money for his personal use from seven buildings owned by Simry Realty Corp., including four adjoining buildings on West 54th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Abe, according to the lawsuit, had asked various Simry employees to charge more for their services and awarded bonuses as part of a “nefarious scheme” to force Simry to default so that Abe “will be able to buy the lender’s debt, foreclose on collateral and usurp full and unfettered control of Simry’s assets.
The complaint was withdrawn when the brothers settled the case, according to a source with knowledge of the matter. In a brief interview last week, Abe Haruvi said he is currently not in a dispute with his brother.
“This is another example of [my family] trying to publicly shame myself,” Abe Haruvi told The Post. “However, the truth will come out and I hope you will be available to report it at that time.”
Arthur Haruvi did not respond to requests for comment.
The December 9 incident is not the first time the domestic affairs of Abe Haruvi and Giovana Stephenson have been made public. In 2010, just before the couple moved into the Rectory from a nearby house, a housekeeper sued them, claiming she was forced to work 19-hour days despite sharing accommodation with their dogs.
Additionally, Irma Diaz claimed in her Florida lawsuit that she was forced to use a shower where dogs urinated and defecated, and that Stephenson “regularly pushed, squeezed, jerked and slapped” her.
Stephenson, through his attorney Weissman, declined to comment on Diaz’s allegations.
Abe Haruvi told The Post he was never told about the maid’s lawsuit, dismissing it as a ploy “by a lawyer to embarrass me”. The lawsuit was eventually withdrawn.
As for the December 9 incident, he said “the truth will come out” and that he puts “all his faith in the justice system” to make it happen.
“I look forward to being found innocent of all charges and I look forward to the day when justice is served,” Haruvi told the Post. “I firmly maintain my innocence and it will be proven.”