Fallen fashion mogul Peter Nygard is trying to forestall the sale of his namesake business’ Notre Dame Avenue property, saying an apartment in a warehouse building has been his permanent home since leaving the Bahamas a year and a half ago.
The Nygard Group of Companies was placed in receivership last March after creditors White Oak Commercial Finance and Second Avenue Capital Partners sought repayment of a US$25- million loan.
On Thursday, lawyers for receiver Richter Advisory Group appeared in court via teleconference to seek approval from Queen’s Bench Justice James Edmond to proceed with an offer from Mist Holdings Inc. to purchase the property.
In an affidavit filed Thursday, Nygard said an apartment at 1340 Notre Dame Ave. has been his home for more than 40 years when he was not living in the Bahamas, and his permanent home for the past year and a half.
Nygard said the locks to the residence were changed while he was away and he was notified by the receiver he would have to vacate the premises by June 5.
"It was always my intention to continue my residency at 1340 Notre Dame during the summer, even though I spent most of my time at my summer (Falcon Lake) residence," Nygard said in the affidavit.
Nygard said he instructed two "associates" to pick up some of his belongings, but they were prevented by the receiver from removing several personal items, including physical training equipment, a 1977 Excalibur, and 2005 Hummer, as well as property belonging to the estate of his late sister.
Nygard said he made an offer to the receiver last March to buy or rent the two separate buildings that make up the apartment and his offices, but they "remain outstanding."
Nygard described Mist Holdings Inc. as a "fire sale buyer" that offered to purchase the properties at "well below appraisal value."
The listed sale price for the properties is $5.2 million.
The proposed sale price for the properties is sealed by a court order.
"The receiver’s main reasons for justifying such a low price were that the buyer considered 10,000 sq. ft. as not leasable, and they had no interest in the office/showroom buildings and, in fact, they planned to spend a considerable amount of money to tear these two buildings down," Nygard said.
Nygard argued his offer remains a practical option given there is no firm possession date, "especially since the building is full of inventory and building materials that will take a considerable amount of time to sell."
"Should the existing Mist Holdings offer somehow end up becoming less than its current offer, it is my opinion the court should require the new price to be disclosed and accept my offer of the revised price plus $50,000," Nygard said in the affidavit.
Richter said it received two offers for the properties, but only the Mist Holdings offer was unconditional, making it the more favourable.
"There is a limited market for this product," Richter lawyer Bruce Taylor told court.
If the court does not approve the sale to Mist Holdings "we don’t know what is going to happen to this property in the future," he said.
Taylor said Nygard knew the property was set to be sold but did not "carve out" a tenancy condition in the receivership order.
Nygard, Taylor said, has provided no formal evidence he was a legal tenant in the building and that his use of the executive suite was an "accommodation" of his employment or ownership interest.
"There was no lease, no tenancy, no rent, and all of the costs of that premises were paid by the companies," Taylor said.
Nygard lawyer Wayne Onchulenko said it’s always been Nygard’s position he was a tenant in the building and that it will be up to the Residential Tenancies Board or the court to decide otherwise.
Onchulenko argued Nygard is protected by COVID-19 provincial legislation that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants until Sept. 30.
"Our position is if Mr. Nygard was a tenant, he could not be terminated, he could not be evicted, because the legislation does not allow for it during this COVID period," Onchulenko said.
Edmond is expected to deliver his decision next week.
A class-action lawsuit filed last March in the U.S. accuses Nygard of sexual misconduct against 57 women. Nygard, through his lawyers, has repeatedly maintained his innocence.
Someone once said a journalist is just a reporter in a good suit. Dean Pritchard doesn’t own a good suit. But he knows a good lawsuit.