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Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 1, 2010 7 years ago

Colony furniture feud ensues

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A bankruptcy hearing Tuesday, Aug. 31 for the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort was going smoothly until an argument ensued between Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association attorney Adam Alpert and Colony Lender LLC attorney Michael Assaf over the rights to the remaining furniture at the resort.

U.S. Bankuptcy Judge K. Rodney May gave permission to Colony Lender and its principals, David Siegal and Randy Langley, to pursue their foreclosure action against companies owned by longtime Colony Beach & Tennis Resort owner and Chairman Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber in Sarasota County Circuit Court.

The judge’s ruling also gave Colony Lender the ability to stake claim to assets inside the Colony units.
Colony Lender is foreclosing on $10 million in overdue bank loans they acquired from Bank of America.
Regarding the assets in the units, Alpert told the court that his client believes the Colony’s unit owners own the property inside the units.

“It’s not appropriate to allow Colony Lender to take possession of the property,” Alpert said.

The comments surprised Assaf, who told Judge May that he has not received a motion from the association that objects to Colony Lender’s right to take possession of the property.

“And in a prior affidavit, the association took the position the property was owned by the debtor,” Assaf said.
“The property was labeled ‘deteriorated,’ and the statement was used as leverage to show a cause for liquidation.”

Assaf was referring to the association’s motion to convert the Colony’s bankruptcy from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 liquidation. In paragraph 20 of that motion, the association states the main assets of the partnership include the furniture and fixtures in the units.

The “deteriorated property” could fetch as much as $700,000 at auction, Assaf told the court. The $700,000 includes an estimated gross receipt for the sale of all personal property that’s in Colony Lender’s security interest, which includes the rights to the property inside Klauber’s other entities, such as the restaurant.

Assaf also told the judge he believed “that someone was wasting the court’s time.”

“I intend to file an order seeking sanctions against counsel if their position has suddenly changed,” Assaf said.

But Alpert wasn’t interested in discussing the matter further.

“Regardless of prior positions, this can be argued in another court,” Alpert said. “There is nothing left for this court to adjudicate.”

May’s ruling comes a week after he granted Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Chapter 7 trustee William Maloney’s request to abandon the rights to any furniture and fixtures at an Aug. 24 hearing.

Maloney made it known he has no desire to sell anything inside the units, including furnishings, furniture and appliances.

The association consented to Maloney’s abandonment of the furnishings, but no decision was made on who legally owns the property.

Colony Lender could file an application with either May’s office or the Sarasota County Circuit Court, noting its intent to sell the property.

If the association files a motion on the record objecting to Colony Lender’s intent to sell the property, Assaf will likely file an order seeking sanctions and claiming frivolous litigation because the association’s counsel would be reversing course on its previous stance.

Reached at his law office in upstate New York, Colony Association President Jay Yablon was clear on the association’s stance.

“The furniture, in our view, belongs to the unit owners,” Yablon said.

An auction of the interior furnishings would most likely delay plans to get owners back into their units this season or force them to buy furniture for the units until a renovation plan for the property is agreed upon.

Siegal, however, disagrees with Yablon.

“The furniture belongs to the debtor and we have a security interest in that property,” Siegal said.


When Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber arrived about 10:15 Sunday night at the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort after a trip to Canada, a surprise greeted him at the Colony guard gate: a locked chain blocking his entrance to his home of 36 years.

He had to call the Longboat Key police to unlock the chain and grant him passage to his sixth-floor Colony condominium.

“I’ve never heard of something like this,” Klauber said. “If you want to come in your own property, you can’t get in.

“I still own three acres here,” he said. “And I have two units for rent. But I can’t get in my own invention.”

Colony Beach & Tennis Resort Association President Jay Yablon told The Longboat Observer that a security officer who was hired by the unit owners put up the chain for security purposes.

“A key to the chain has been provided to Dr. Klauber, the Longboat Key Police Department and the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department,” Yablon said. “Dr. Klauber simply forgot his key, and the police department was called to let him in.”

“It doesn’t sound like America to me,” Klauber said.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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