By Amber Jamieson, Stephanie Pagones and Angel Chevrestt
Celebrity homes — including Vogue chief Anna Wintour’s plush Greenwich Village address and film director Darren Aronofsky’s East Village town house — are being used in an apparent real estate scam.
In a classic bait-and-switch, online ads promise cheap apartments at the storied addresses, but prospective renters are steered to less fancy digs.
When Post reporters posing as prospective tenants answered the ads last week on StreetEasy.com and Trulia.com, they were text-messaged back by unnamed real estate salespeople. But each time the reporters tried to see the advertised apartments, they were met with excuses — they’re not available for viewing or they’re suddenly off the market.
They were then shown far less fashionable flats, and were ushered to the offices of St. Marks Place Realty at 36 St. Marks Place.
The firm’s sole licensed broker said his name was Jordan Marshall, although the firm operates under a license issued to Marshall C. Jordan.
Dressed in a cheap suit, he launched into a high-pressure spiel: A just-viewed East Third Street apartment was listed by a major brokerage, and the rival firm was holding an open house that very afternoon. If the clients paid a $100 application fee on the spot and filled out a form, “We can stop them from renting it . . . This way we don’t lose it.”
He said his broker fee would be 11 percent of a year’s rent — or $4,150 — which he claimed was 4 percentage points lower than his rivals’ rate.
His ad never mentions Wintour by name but lists her exact address on tony Sullivan Street, where she has owned a four-story town house since 1992. The ad says the “very large 2 bedroom apartment with hardwood floors and high ceilings” goes for just $2,400 a month.
“This is a false listing,” a Wintour spokeswoman told The Post.
Aronofsky, the acclaimed director of “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream,” bought his plush East 11th Street town house for $3.4 million in 2005. The online ad cites his exact address to hawk a four-bedroom for just $5,600. The director would not comment, but sources confirmed he is not renting his home.
Instead of being taken to the posh pads, the reporters were led to modest apartments. Of the 18 listed online by St. Marks Place Realty, 14 were tied to George and Michael Lavian, brothers who own dozens of downtown buildings. The Lavians did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
“I’ve known them for a long time,” said Stephan Laboccetta, a Realtor who has worked with the Lavians. “If they knew that’s what they [the scammers] were doing, they wouldn’t be happy.”
The man claiming to be Jordan Marshall dodged Post questions.
“I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” he repeatedly said. “I’ve got to go to work.”
This article was originally posted in the New York Post on July 12, 2015.