Ex-raider Edelman fights back over Giacometti loan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Asher Edelman, whose corporate-raider past was mined for the movie character Gordon Gekko, is fighting back against a New York lender who said he defaulted on loans to buy artwork.

Edelman, 70, accused an Emigrant Bank unit of “oppressive” conduct for trying to hold him in default on $3.1 million of loans, according to an affidavit filed on Wednesday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The sum included $2 million to buy “Torse de Femme,” by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

In a Thursday interview, Edelman said he is aware of at least two other Emigrant borrowers claiming similar treatment, and that he may pursue a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to defraud and a violation of a federal anti-racketeering law.

“I have paid the bank what I believe I owe,” said Edelman, who now runs the Edelman Arts modern art gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “I’m angry. I seldom get angry, but I am.”

The bank’s spokesman, Charles Zehren, said Edelman’s allegations were “completely baseless.”

“Emigrant Bank seeks only to hold Mr. Edelman to agreements he has made, and for him to honor all of his obligations,” Zehren said. A lawyer for Emigrant did not immediately return a call seeking comment

Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance LLC had sued Edelman in March, alleging it had tolerated three years of “late payments, missed payments, other defaults and collateral sales” before finally declaring an event of default last July.

But in his affidavit, Edelman accused Emigrant of reneging on various promises regarding repayment, and thus preventing him from taking necessary actions to avoid default. He said the bank is now also rejecting his interest payments.

Citing a senior Emigrant banker, he also contended that Emigrant had “encouraged” him and other borrowers to shorten their loans’ maturity dates, to “assist Emigrant with federal bank regulators” by allowing it to post lower loan reserves.

“I have conducted business with scores of financial institutions,” Edelman wrote. “At no time prior to the events cataloged in this affidavit have I ever encountered the type of conduct ... practiced here by Emigrant.”

Edelman was a leading Wall Street raider in the 1980s before leaving the finance world and moving to Switzerland.

He was among the people used to model Gekko for Oliver Stone’s film “Wall Street,” people involved in making the 1987 film said at the time.

The case is Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance LLC v. Edelman et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 600607/2010.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Al Yoon; Editing by Matthew Lewis, Gary Hill