UPDATE: Vote now to support Piri Thomas and help send David Elder back to California!
Dig this, Happy Chelsea Campers: our favorite Lovecraftian abomination, board member and Hotel Chelsea layabout David Elder, apparently has a long and distinguished history of separating artists from their money. When David’s mother died in 1986, she left her 16% interest in the Chelsea Hotel to David and his two siblings in trust. However, the trust stipulated that Piri Thomas, her husband and David’s stepfather, was to receive all income from the trust for as long as he lived.
David and his siblings didn’t care for that arrangement and have refused to hand over the 1.2 million that the trust has generated in income, forcing Piri to sue for the money. Though the court called David and his siblings’ argument that the income was principal “absurd,” and ruled against them, they have tied it up in appeals.
Piri Thomas grew up poor in Spanish Harlem and wrote the now classic autobiography “Down these Mean Streets” about his childhood there. A true artist and social activist who worked with drug addicts, Piri is a former Chelsea Hotel resident and a friend of the late painter Herbert Gentry.
Sickeningly, the elderly Piri was even forced to pay $494,000 in taxes on the income he still can’t collect. (Check out the court filing for all of the details.) David’s mother, a social welfare lawyer active in women’s right and health care issues, must be rolling over in her grave.
I'm not a lawyer, but wouldn't the fact that David stands to benefit from the trust make him fiduciarilly unfit to administer? Someone with a legal background might want to check this out.
Oh, by the way, David, you are more than welcome to weigh in with your side of the story. -- Ed Hamilton