Sunday, January 16, 2011




January 25th 2011

Your Free Press has just learned from a source at the NAC that O. Aldon James Jr. has had "the second floor cleaned," which is where the Board Room, Think Tank are as well as the room everything from the Think Tank was transfered to following the 2009 FDNY
surprise inspection. Then the New York Times, who had been personally turned away by the brothers James and Mr. Leitner the day before was invited to view the newly cleaned rooms that were called "private" the day before. This still leaves the apartments featured in the photos posted by YFP more than a week ago that show the condition of several apartments and the condition of valuable Art stored at the NAC as they were in December of 2010. The rooms in these photos are still being kept "private."

Recently, disturbing documents and photographs were obtained by Your Free Press. The photographs reveal the decaying state of the National Arts Club. The Club is a 501c3 tax exempt organization that houses a private restaurant, 37 apartments and short term rental rooms as well as gallery and event spaces. The NAC is registered as a National Historic Landmark that was once the home of NYS Governor Samuel Tilden. Currently it is the home of the Club's President since 1986, Oliver Aldon James Jr., His twin brother John T. James and their cohort Steven Lietner, a real estate attorney and head of the NAC Housing Board.

Several sources have come forward with their stories and documents. A previous YFP article detailed the FDNY investigation of the NAC. Mr. James was informed that the Club would be fined $5000 a day until the "Think Tank," the one room that was inspected in 2009, was cleaned.

Here's where the story gets interesting. According to sources, once the fire department left the Club, Mr. James contacted Arnaldo Segarra. "Arnie" formally of the Dinkins administration. He directed James to Deputy Commissioner White of the FDNY. In an email dated September 2009 obtained by Your Free Press, Mr. James informs Deputy White of a “Disturbing matter...Three firemen entered the Clubhouse...They asked to enter private locked rooms based on this fictional report. They said they are coming back and will break the door down if we can not find a key.” Despite Mr. James' claim that the firemen said they would be back to break down the doors, after the email was sent the fire investigation into the NAC seemed to completely disappear. However, YFP learned that the Fire Department did do an inspection on January 7, 2010. The club was issued a violation for "blocked exit hallways." ( Amy Zimmer

This is not the first time the condition of the club and the leadership of Aldon James has been called into question. It is not the first time that an investigation into these allegations has been halted as soon as it began. In 2002 the financial records of the National Arts Club were seized by the city's Department of Finance. Authorities had “a search warrant to raid the Club's administrative offices as part of an investigation into grand larceny and a tax evasion scheme. The investigation was started by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.” (NY Observer

Amongst the charges that were being leveled against the Club's President was that he was misusing Club resources. It was alleged that at least 10 of the 37 highly coveted prewar apartments contained within the Club were being used for private purposes and that the financial resources of the Club were being used for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that did not further the Club's mission. A group of members known as the Concerned Artist Members claimed that Mr. James' legal fees were not the Club's financial responsibility. In addition, that Aldon James, John James and Steven Leitner controlled 10 valuable apartments, depriving the Club of revenue.” (NYT) At the time Nilda Mesa, the wife of Concerned Artist Member Robert Seyffert was quoted in the NYT(/2002/01/05/nyregion/records-seized-in-investigation-at-national-arts-club.html) as saying “We see what has been a healthy catering business, bringing in conservatively gross revenues of $2 million to $3 million a year not reported on tax forms...The money is obviously not being invested in the building.The facade is crumbling. And it was until 2008 when a Facade Restoration project was announced and funds for the facade were being actively solicited by the Club.

Less than a week after the 2002 raid, Mr. James was on stage at another of the many gold-medal awards dinners and through his spokesman Ken Sunshine informed us that business at the Club was “continuing nonstop with no change” In response to allegations of his misuse of Club assets, Mr. James himslelf has quoted Goethe in response to his accusers with, “ Mehr licht,” or more light. (NYT)

Well, more light came to the NAC in 2008. There was an OSHA complaint regarding hazardous conditions in the work place by the building superintendent. The complaint dated 7/29/08 included allegations of asbestos. In August of the same year Mr. James wrote a response to the OSHA letter claiming that no hazards ever existed. After that OSHA did not come to inspect the facility. Mr. James can you shed some licht?
Click on the links below to see other images documents and video.

Stay tuned to YFP there will be further deve
lopments coming soon.


Anonymous said...

What boggles my mind is how OSHA, the NY Fire Dept. takes this man's word that the violations are corrected without an investigation or breaking the door as reported in one of the commends. What will happen is the kindle of this historical land mark smothers into a three alarm fire, what would be the answer by the regulatory agencies. Who will be responsible for the people that live and work there. What will the members have to say? How will the governing board spin this one. It is time to wake up to reality, and remember the old saying: " an ounce of prevention....

Anonymous said...

There was a fire there a month or two ago! They said it was an A\C unit but who knows...

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