The heir to a Manhattan real-estate fortune squandered millions of dollars that was supposed to go to a Jewish charity, going on a spending spree that included fancy cars and posh hotels, according to court papers.
The United Jewish Appeal claims it was supposed to get the remainder of a trust set up by building mogul Bill Gottlieb, who died in 1999, according to a filing in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.
Gottlieb’s late sister’s husband, Irving Bender, eventually became the beneficiary of the trust, and allegedly blew $3.5 million meant for the charity.
Irving’s epic spending spree allegedly included $43,000-plus for a luxury car, $7,000 for rooms at the swanky W Hotel in Union Square and about $50,000 for a five-month stay at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida.
The club “was vastly beyond his ‘usual and normal standard of living,’ ” the UJA says.
Irving also spent more than $100,000 a month on “eye-opening” medical expenses near the end of his own life, court papers allege.
The UJA claims Irving was treated at times by “up to 11 nurses billing for more than 75 hours a day,” even though his doctor prescribed just four nurses for 48 hours a day.
According to the UJA, Irving and wife Mollie lived a “very modest lifestyle, did not own their own home, did not have any significant income aside from trust income, did not have any valuable assets and would be unable to pay the expenses” that Irving racked up.
Gottlieb died owning an estimated $1 billion or more worth of property in Greenwich Village, Chelsea and lower Manhattan.
Terms of the trust gave Mollie Bender interest payments and principal needed for emergencies and “to maintain her usual and normal standard of living,” with the benefits passing to Irving upon her death, court papers say.
But the UJA alleges that US Trust, which in 2002 was put in charge of the trust and is owned by Bank of America, “abidcate(d) its responsibility” and signed off on Irving’s lavish spending following Mollie’s death in 2007.
The UJA also notes a “possible conflict of interest” involving the Benders’ son, Neil, who became sole owner of the Gottlieb real-estate empire following his dad’s death in 2012.
US Trust “may have hoped that return for complicity in these distributions, it would procure bigger business down the road from . . . Neil Bender,” court papers say. Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said: “Our position is we acted in accordance with Mr. Gottlieb’s direction in the trust.”
Neil Bender didn’t return a message left at his office, but a spokesman, Marty McLaughlin, noted that the UJA — which wants a trial over its allegations — had already received $6.75 million from the trust.
“Now they’re hondling for more,” McLaughlin said, using a Yiddish term that means “wheeling and dealing.”
Source – Nypost.com