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HuffPo Founder Arianna Huffington Accused of Wrecking Chelsea Pad

By James Fanelli | April 1, 2013 5:30pm | Updated on April 1, 2013 6:38pm

CHELSEA — Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington left a swanky $32,000-a-month Chelsea loft in shambles when she moved out in January, a new lawsuit charges.

The pad's owner, documentary filmmaker Eric Steel, is suing the blogging queen for $500,000, accusing her of gouging nearly all the walls, scratching the wood floors and staining the guest bathroom during the nearly two years she was a renter.

Huffington began subleasing Steel's furnished apartment in May 2011, according to the lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Monday. The seventh-floor pad was designed by Steel's stepfather, world-renowned modernist architect Charles Gwathmey.

Because of the loft's "historical and aesthetic significance," Steel stressed to Huffington that she could not use it for business or to host parties, the lawsuit says.

Huffington even signed a rider limiting the number of guests in her apartment to 12. But when her lease ended on Jan. 9, Steel allegedly found the place trashed.

"Virtually all of the walls of the apartment were gouged, stained and otherwise damaged by clothing racks, furniture, luggage and general carelessness, requiring the entire apartment to be repainted," the lawsuit says.

Huffington released a statement Monday denying the lawsuit's claims.

"Every single claim in this suit is false except the square footage and the address," Huffington said in a statement. "Eric Steel, who happily renewed the lease twice and visited the apartment multiple times, is holding onto $93,000 dollars in deposits, which he has refused to return. He is obviously trying to extort more money from me.... It won't work."

Steel claims that before Huffington moved in, the apartment was in "pristine condition," with the walls having been recently repainted and the floors refinished. When Huffington left, the floors were scratched and punctured and the kitchen and guest bathroom had to be professionally cleaned, the lawsuit claims.

A dining room table designed by Gwathmey was damaged, and chemicals from cosmetics and candles had wrecked the loft's steel window seats and steel ledges, the lawsuit says.

Steel claims he also found his coffee table stained with rings and a queen mattress and pillow top covered with blood.

The lawsuit claims Huffington broke the sublease agreement by making "innumerable" copies of the elevator lock for people and letting her daughters crash in the pad. Huffington's daughters were only allowed to visit, according to the lease.

Steel, who directed the documentary "The Bridge," claims he has been unable to live in or rent the apartment for the last three months because of the repairs he needs to make.

Steel declined to comment.

"Everything is spelled out in the complaint," he told DNAinfo.com.