Legal Battle Between André Leon Talley, George Malkemus Expected to Intensify

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  • André Leon Talley
    André Leon Talley
    American journalist

HOME SWEET HOME: The legal dispute between André Leon Talley and former Manolo Blahnik USA chief executive officer George Malkemus is expected to have another counterclaim in the coming weeks.

Talley is potentially facing eviction from a $1 million White Plains, N.Y., home by Malkemus and his husband Anthony Yurgaitis. The dispute was first reported by The New York Post.

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Malkemus and Yurgaitis first took legal action last fall, citing a nonpayment proceeding in White Plains City Court. In late January, Talley filed a complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York’s Westchester County.

While Talley claims to own the property through a gentlemen’s agreement with Malkemus and Yurgaitis, the defendants contend Talley has fallen behind in rent by “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Talley’s court documents allege that he made “episodic payments totaling $995,558” and has paid for such costly repairs as replacing the boiler and repairing the roof, annual landscaping and yard services.

A counterclaim from Malkemus’ and Yugaitis’ legal team is expected to be filed by March 5.

Talley deferred comment to one of his attorneys, Michael Maizel, who did not respond immediately to requests for comment Monday morning.

Talley’s attorney Erik Weinick declined comment other than to say, “We think we have a strong case and we look forward to having our day in court.”

Malkemus’ lawyer Edward David, said, “Talley is telling a story. Our story is very, very different. Talley leased the property from George and Anthony. He paid rent sporadically throughout the term of the lease. He never exercised any right to buy the paper [mortgage]. And he’s lived there since 2004 and has fallen drastically behind in paying rent, taxes and insurance. At this point, my clients have had enough — had enough of carrying him.”

In his filing, the 72-year-old Talley described himself as coming from a “humble background, but due to hard work, determination and a single focus, experienced a meteoric rise in the fashion and entertainment industries.”

In April 2019, Malkemus, Yurgaitis and Manolo Blahnik split, and did not renew the license that Malkemus and Yurgaitis held for decades to operate Blahnik’s U.S. business. More recently, Malkemus partnered with Sarah Jessica Parker for her SJP shoe business.

Talley, the former creative director at Vogue, wrote in court documents of being raised by his grandmother in the “Jim Crow-era” North Carolina and attending college at North Carolina Central University, an historically black university, before receiving a full scholarship to Brown University, where he earned a master of arts degree in French literature.

After detailing his career and then his retirement from full-time editing in 2014, Talley spoke of using his “particular skill set” and “the brand” that he has cultivated. Talley said he met Malkemus 38 years ago, and they shared experience in fashion and “bonded over our respective faiths.”

Talley said Malkemus helped him purchase a car in 1999, when he was unable to do so. In need of vacating another property that had developed a mold problem in 2004, Talley found the property at 75 Worthington Road in White Plains but could not purchase it himself due to the ”rushed circumstances of the move and credit issues.” He said he accepted the defendants’ offer to help him obtain the house.

Talley has had a resurgence in the fashion world in recent months, following the success of his memoir, “The Chiffon Trenches.” He recently appeared in an ad for Ugg, which was filmed on his front porch and lawn in White Plains. He also has participated in virtual talks with the Ford Foundation’s Darren Walker for the Museum of Arts and Design and led a virtual master class for Parsons School of Design The New School.

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