Georges Perrier Loses Le Bec-Fin Building in Sheriff’s Sale (But It May All Be Part of an Elaborate Plan) [UPDATED]

UPDATE 6/12/2014: The new owner of 1523 Walnut Street has moved to evict Avance, the current tenant.

ORIGINAL:




Storied Philadelphia chef Georges Perrier has owned 1523 Walnut Street since 1981. It housed his legendary French restaurant Le Bec-Fin, which closed in June 2013, making way for Avance, Perrier's tenant. But now, Perrier has lost ownership of the building in a sheriff's sale.

The sale, which occurred on June 3rd, was, in part, the result of a $2.75 million judgment against Perrier in favor of The Bancorp, the lender who gave the chef a $3.5 million loan in 2007 for Table 31, Perrier's failed restaurant inside the Comcast Center. According to court documents, Perrier failed to pay back that loan. The building was sold to law firm Dilworth Paxson for $59,400, the minimum bid set forth by the sheriff's office.

One foreclosure attorney we spoke with, who reviewed the court and deed records, indicates that the building was purchased on behalf of WA Financial Partners, L.P., a company created earlier this year whose registered address is 1425 Walnut Street, Suite 300. That address corresponds to Pearl Properties, the developer responsible for the DiBruno Bros. location in Rittenhouse, Marc Vetri's Amis in Midtown Village, and Michael Solomonov's Percy Street Barbecue.

But the attorney also says that there are some unusual aspects to this sheriff's sale that suggest that Perrier is actually cooperating with WA Financial Partners and The Bancorp in the transaction. And it turns out that Perrier might be doing all this to put the screws to his ex-wife, Andrea Perrier.

In 2013, Andrea Perrier obtained a $370,357 judgment against Georges Perrier in Philadelphia's Common Pleas Court. As a result, Perrier couldn't sell 1523 Walnut Street without fulfilling the lien she had against him. But if the property were foreclosed upon by a lien holder with a claim that preceded hers, then the property is sold free and clear of any later judgments. And, according to the attorney, Perrier would have to have some sort of deal worked out between him, Bancorp and WA Financial Partners that took care of his debt.

"Because of her judgment, he couldn't just sell this property," says the attorney, who declined to use his name. "My working theory is that he wanted to sell the place and that he got Bancorp to help him do it. It's the only way you can sell a piece of property without paying a lien. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Of course, if you're the missus, you don't like it one bit."

Neither Perrier nor the other parties involved in the sheriff's sale returned a call seeking comment.

All Le Bec Fin coverage [f8b8z]

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  • tjt

    dear mr. attorney,

    legal and “nothing wrong” are often at odds. Ethics dictate that end-arounds designed to subvert payments of debt might be legal, but are also certainly wrong.

    • GT

      there’s nothing legally wrong. Feel better?

      • tjt

        not at all. that was, basically, my point. It’s telling when an attorney slips and says “nothing wrong” instead of “nothing illegal.”

  • http://batman-news.com PPABootsquadVinnie

    Good for George. A victory for All men who’ve had to deal with a money-grubbing ex-wife. One that brought nothing to the table, and would profit by divorcing the chef that put Philadelphia on the fine dining map. Way to go!

  • variable

    So what’s the real message here, don’t get married?

  • guzzijason

    I just can’t believe the sheriff’s dept sold that property for a paltry $59,400. Makes my head spin…

    • TragicPhilly

      My thoughts exactly! How does the Sheriff’s dept or Bancorp sell the building so cheap and not have some legal or fiduciary duty to taxpayers or stock holders or citizens to market a choice property like that to obtain a better price or at least fair market value for the building. Like 50 times that amount!!

      • Feudi Pandola

        Don’t forget we’re dealing with a Sheriff’s Department where tens of millions have gone missing and nobody seems to care one iota about where that money went. Are you listening Seth Williams???

      • Bruce

        The Sheriff’s obligation is to conduct the auction when the holder of the judgment, Bancorp, wanted to execute on it. The City didn’t own the property, so wouldn’t benefit from the sale, other than perhaps higher fees on a higher price. But the Sheriff’s Dept. can’t force people to come in and bid. And any duty to shareholders would be that of Bancorp to collect as much as possible on its judgment. Again, the Sheriff has no responsibility to a private company.

        • hello

          Basically, the investment company made an agreement with Bancorp to buy the property in auction and cover the mortgage separately in order to avoid transfer taxes. If someone buys my house and mortgage gets paid off in the process, trasnfer taxes are paid on the full amount. That is the real injustice here to all us city taxpayers and the more interesting story; Perrier could not have sold the property for the full debt and paid off the wife, so he made the right move..

  • Mom

    Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.

  • Lala land

    Wait, educated me please. Is a sheriff sale public, do notices have to be issued.. I would have paid 500k. And the guy across the street would have paid more 3million!!!! Who has avance been renting from Bancorp? Wow to complicated for me. So avance who’s owners basically put the nails in perrier a coffin are bow his tenant? Georges now is handed the hammer.? Was it all a ploy to screw the wife?

    • phillygirl

      you are forgetting the multiple million dollar mortgage attached to the property- nobody actually got this place for $60,000

  • Feudi Pandola

    If this deal was a scam, it ended up costing the city big time. If the building “sold” for only $59,400 but was actually worth a few million, then the taxpayers, and the city got royally rooked out of the correct transfer real estate tax! Are you listening Seth Williams?

  • PalestraJon

    Of course, she could have bid up to the amount of her debt without having to go out of pocket, so for this to be true, either she was negligent or part of the “scam.” Does anyone know as a matter of fact who Dilworth was representing?