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Players Club Could Lose Historic Gramercy Park Home, Records Show

By Amy Zimmer | April 22, 2014 9:03am
 An image from "Speakeasy Dollhouse," an interactive performance that is being staged at The Players club on May 3, June 7 and July 12, 2014.
An image from "Speakeasy Dollhouse," an interactive performance that is being staged at The Players club on May 3, June 7 and July 12, 2014.
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Maxine Nienow

MANHATTAN — Gramercy Park's historic Players club could soon be forced to find a new home.

The club was hit with a foreclosure action last week in Manhattan Supreme Court that could lead to it being booted from its landmarked mansion at 16 Gramercy Park South, once home to legendary actor Edwin Booth, court records show.

“You are in danger of losing your home,” the court papers stated.

The debt-ridden actors' society owed the city more than $264,000 in back taxes, and now the trust that owns the debt is trying to collect it — either in cash or in the form of the historic Gramercy home, court records show.

The club's new president, Arthur Makar, who took the helm of the fiscally troubled organization in March, dismissed the threat of foreclosure.

“All I can tell you right now is we have a plan in place and it’s not going to happen,” he said.

He declined to disclose the plan’s details, explaining, “I’m working it through it with my board.”

Once a foreclosure action is filed, the legal process could take about two years before the property owner is forced out, experts said.

The city put a lien on the crumbling townhouse after the cash-strapped institution failed to pay property taxes. The lien was then sold at the city’s annual auction last May to a trust and is now being managed by the servicing agent, MTAG, according to attorney Thomas Malone, who filed the court papers.

MTAG did not respond to a request for a comment, but according to its website, the company is also owed an additional $50,000 in interest and fees, on top of the club's initial $264,000 debt.

The Players club has also continued to rack up debt with the city, totaling more than $80,000 in unpaid taxes, over the past year, records show. That debt will be sold to a third party at an auction on May 16, according to city records.

The 125-year-old club has been plagued by fiscal troubles over the past few years, forcing it to sell two prized John Singer Sargent paintings and try to loan out its remaining one to stay afloat.

The Players club has been working to turn things around after its longtime president and executive director left. The club raised $900,000 to make much-needed repairs to its mansion’s facade, Makar told DNAinfo New York when he took office.

The club has also been hosting an interactive theater performance with burlesque dancers, actors and musicians called "Speakeasy Dollhouse: The Brothers Booth."