More than a taste of Cipriani faces auction

Giuseppi (left) and Arrigo Cipriani (inset) and their restaurant on 42nd Street. (NY Post photo)

(Note: Please see updated information that you will find highlighted below.)

When Giuseppi Cipriani opened Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931, little did he know that his undertaking would grow into an empire with restaurants in New York, London, Hong Kong, Miami, Los Angeles and Porto Cervo.

Harry’s Bar is something else, according to the hyperbolic Cipriani Web site:

At Harry’s Bar in Venice, all clients are treated like royalty. Simple elements such as true service and devotion have elevated Harry’s to legendary status. In fact, in 2001, the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs declared Harry’s Bar in Venice a national landmark, a unique honor bestowed not for the establishments’s décor or furniture, but for its witness to the events of a century in Venice.

With no less humility, the site goes on to say the following:

The secret of Cipriani isn’t about what can be seen or touched, but what can be felt and sensed. It is intangible but palpable. It can’t be patented, but even after seventy-five years it hasn’t been duplicated by others.

Four generations of Cipriani have grown a single restaurant into a world renowned hospitality brand still recognized for its distinguished venues and service all over the world.

Maybe so, but Giuseppi and his offspring could hardly have imagined that their restaurants–their very name and even their recipes–could be for others to assume if an auction by lender Capital One comes off as scheduled on Sept. 7 at 10 a.m.

An advertisement in the New York Times and two subsequent stories in the New York Post invite attention to the owners’ plight.  Included in the collateral that they stand to lose is virtually everything, including the kitchen sink, though no $57 serving of the restaurants’ veal Milanese.

Capital One was quoted in the Post as saying it will sell off the entire inventory of two Cipriani locations–Downtown and Harry Cipriani in New York , but not the Wall Street establishment or others elsewhere–to pay off an outstanding $4 million debt.

The McLean, Va.-based bank already has seized $368,000 from the personal bank account of heiress Giovanna Cipriani and $285,515 from 20 bank accounts attached to various Cipriani business entities.

Cipriani filed legal papers last week to block the auction, corporate spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said, adding that no one from the bank has done any inventory yet.

After I published this post, the New York Post reported that Cipriani’s request to postpone the auction was granted Thursday by State Supreme Court Judge Richard Lowe III, who set a new court date of Oct. 19.

The company is still paying off its 2007 $10 million criminal penalty for tax evasion, and it recently lost control of the Rainbow Room after a rent dispute.

If you want a taste of Cipriani, the auction will be held at the law offices of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, 75 E. 55th St.–if the company’s attempt to stop or delay the event ultimately fails.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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