Sherry-Lehmann's Park Ave. landlord gets OK to finally empty wine from store -- a year after shutdown

MONEY & BUSINESS: Sherry-Lehmann’s Park Ave. landlord gets OK to finally empty wine from store — a year after shutdown

Iconic wine retailer Sherry-Lehmann’s Park Avenue landlord has won permission to finally clear out old shelves, fixtures and leftover bottles of wine at the storied shop — which have been collecting dust for more than a year since it shuttered in scandal.

New York judge Suzanne Adams on March 4 approved an “order of ejectment” that enables Hong Kong-based property giant Glorious Sun — which is owed more than $4.8 million in unpaid rent on the swanky space at 505 Park Ave. — to retake possession of the store at the corner of East 59th Street.  

The famous vintner — whose clientele over the decades included Henry Kissinger, Greta Garbo and Andy Warhol — closed its doors after 89 years on March 10, 2023 after the New York State Liquor Authority found that it was selling alcohol with a lapsed license.

Sherry-Lehmann’s landlord is emptying out the contents of the iconic store. Lisa Fickenscher / New York Post

The agency ordered it to close and it never reopened.

The SLA fined the business $5,000 for the licensing offense – a sum that is still outstanding.

In recent years, the iconic retailer has been dogged by costly, ill-fated moves.

The biggest, according to some insiders, may have been a 2007 decision to rent the space on Park Avenue after leaving its longtime flagship at 679 Madison Ave. where it had owned its real estate for 60 years.

Sherry-Lehmann was paying nearly $2 million in annual rent for three-story, 9,500-square-foot space at the bottom of the glass-and-steel tower, a source with knowledge of the business told The Post.

After a long delay that some observers blamed partly on COVID-related delays in the courts, the shop this week finally appeared to be getting cleared out.

The store’s glass entry doors are now covered with drop cloth and its big display window — which had famously showcased rare vintages in splashy, artistic presentations during the holidays — now features a white sheetrock wall. 

“You can’t take over a space just because a tenant hasn’t paid rent,” Edmund O’Brien, the landlord’s attorney told The Post earlier this month, adding at the time that Glorious Sun was expecting to take possession of the space by the end of March.

“We did what we had to do to get an order of ejectment and we’ll follow through with the actual eviction,” O’Brien added.

Shyda Gilmer is a co-owner of the iconic wine store. New York Post
In recent years, the iconic retailer has been dogged by costly, ill-fated moves. Robert Miller

Once it’s available for a new tenant, the location is likely to fetch as much as $250 per square foot, according to Jeffrey Roseman, vice chairman of Newmark.

“59th and Park Avenue is a majestic corner, very high profile and there will be interest [from tenants] for sure,” Roseman added.

Glorious Sun last year sued Sherry-Lehmann and its co-owner Shyda Gilmer, who have been accused of taking money for wine futures and not delivering the goods to collectors, stiffing New York on $3.3 million in unpaid sales tax and not delivering purchases made online or over the phone.

A wine storage business associated with the store – called Wine Caves – also has mysteriously disappeared along with its contents, say others who are still trying to retrieve their bottles.

It’s once elegant display windows have been stripped bare. Gabriella Bass

Meanwhile federal investigators including the FBI and the US Postal Inspection Service have been investigating the business – and raided the store last year along with a facility in Pearl River, NY where it’s believed the the wine storage business was moved to from Queens.

The federal investigation is ongoing, a spokesperson for the USPIS told The Post.

Gilmer never responded to Glorious Sun’s lawsuit, while Sherry-Lehmann’s past owners, also named in the suit, argue that they long ago severed ties with the business and have no stake in it, according to court documents.

It’s unlikely that there is anything left in the store of great value since the the retailer wasn’t paying its bills before it shuttered — including from its vendors. At the end, most of its shelves were either empty or stocked with cut-rate vintages including a $15 bottle of Chateau Franc Couplet Bordeaux that was purchased by a New York Post reporter on the day it closed.

Sherry-Lehmann was an institution in New York and credited with bringing Dom Perignon champagne to the US. Robert Miller

Fixtures that remain in the shop — including a pair of Austrian wine barrels dating from the 1940s, historic photos and magnums of wine that could still be been seen through a small opening in the corner window this week — may get auctioned off, an industry expert said.

The New York Sheriff’s office did not immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.

Founded in 1934 by Sam Aaron and his brother, Jack — a reputed bootlegger during Prohibition — Sherry-Lehman built a reputation as a gateway to the US market for fine French wineries. It stocked some of the finest burgundy wines and is credited with introducing Dom Perignon to the US in 1946.

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