Brothers at War Over Rapidly Deteriorating Family Brownstone Near Central Park - NBC New York

Brothers at War Over Rapidly Deteriorating Family Brownstone Near Central Park

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    Lawsuit Reveals Shocking Filth in NYC Brownstone

    Two brothers are locked in a war over their four-story family brownstone near Central Park, with one suing the other -- whom he claims is a hoarder -- to sell the property and split the money. Wale Aliyu reports. (Published Friday, April 6, 2018)

    What to Know

    • Andrew Cohen is suing brother James to sell their family's valuable Upper West Side brownstone near Central Park

    • Andrew claims James simply moved in and took it over when their father died in 2011 and has let it deteriorate

    • Shocking photos filed with the lawsuit reveal what appears to be a hoarding condition on the part of James Cohen

    Two brothers are locked in a war over their four-story family brownstone near Central Park, with one suing the other -- whom he claims is a hoarder -- to sell the property and split the money. 

    The single-family brownstone on West 83rd Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, boasts a basement and a garage, with a deeded curb cut and driveway. Home sale site Zillow estimates its value at $10 million. 

    Photos taken by a private inspector included in the lawsuit filed over the brownstone

    But the prime property is entirely filled with junk and covered in filth, according to Andrew Lindsay Cohen of Vermont, who's suing his brother currently living there, James S. Cohen.

    A lawsuit filed by Andrew's attorney Thursday says that when the brothers' mother Cynthia Cohen died in 2007, she left the brownstone to her husband, Joseph Cohen. She also left $1 million to son James, but Joseph -- as the executor of his late wife's will -- apparently never executed the bequest to James.

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    Joseph died in 2011, and his will directed that his estate, including the brownstone, be split equally between his sons. But James, begrudged by not having gotten the $1 million from his mother's will, tried to take over the brownstone in his name alone, according to Andrew Cohen's lawsuit.

    When he was unable to take it over entirely, James still somehow managed to adjust the ownership so that he owned 62.5 percent of it, and Andrew owned 37.5 percent. 

    James has been living inside the home since his father's death in 2011, refusing to pay rent or mortgage -- and now the bank is seeking foreclosure on the house, according to Andrew. The current mortgage debt, including arrears, exceeds $2 million and keeps going up by the day. 

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    Andrew also claims his brother suffers from hoarding, and the home is falling apart as a result. The lawsuit described falling plaster and paint; sagging stairs; water damage from leaks in the roof and skylight; a collapsing back porch; exposed brick; and exposed pipes and wiring. 

    There's paper, garbage, old belongings and "other filth and detritus" that's accumulated "to the point that certain rooms cannot even be physically entered." 

    Mold -- potentially toxic -- is growing on surfaces, and rats, mice and other vermin are obviously running through the house, the lawsuit states. 

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    "The situation has gotten to the point where the property is no longer safe to enter and is almost inhabitable," it states. 

    Andrew Cohen is seeking to sell the building in one piece and divide the profits equally between him and his brother, as directed by their father's will.

    The lawsuit included photos taken by a private environmental inspector, who concluded that the home isn't healthy for living and "to live here would be to live in squalor." 

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