NEW YORK CITY — The family behind a massive Brooklyn Navy Yards film studio complex stands accused of stiffing local partners out of $50 million in profits, a new lawsuit contends.
Steiner Studios — where films such as Steven Spielberg’s”West Side Story” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tick Tick Boom!” were filmed — has been named in a civil suit filed by a group of local entrepreneurs who says they developed the complex then were cut out of profits, court records show.
“We outworked and outmaneuvered high-powered groups, including one headlined by Harvey Weinstein, Robert De Niro and billionaire Steven Ross, to win exclusive rights to develop about 15 acres on the Navy Yard,” said Dr. Joseph Wilson, president of New York Studios, in a statement.”
“But we then were betrayed by Douglas and David Steiner.”
Representatives for Steiner Studios declined to comment when reached by Patch.
New York Studios’ attorneys argued the Steiners have a massive moneymaker, but hid financial records from the group since 2008 as the studios expanded.
This move allowed the Steiners to duck paying more than $50 million in profits to New York Studios, the civil suit contends.
“The project undoubtedly is now valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not in the billion dollar range,” Wilson said in a statement.
New York Studios, which is largely led by people of color, first formed in 1997 to develop studios and soundstages in Brooklyn Navy Yard, according to the lawsuit.
The group scored a local agreement to develop the studios on 15 acres and chose the Steiners as partners in 1999, the complaint states.
The Steiners not only developed on those 15 acres, but also expanded three times in Brooklyn Navy Yards and are working on a fourth expansion, documents state.
The entire complex is now a sprawling, 50-acre “private enclave” with 30 soundstages, dressing rooms, prop storage and more, according to Steiner Studios’ website.
“What the Steiners call ‘Steiner Studios’ is now the largest studio
in the United States east of Hollywood,” the lawsuit states.
The accusation of betrayal by the Steiner father-and-son duo isn’t new.
New York Studios has sued the Steiners twice before, but those complaints were dismissed because judges found they failed to make their case.
The group obtained new lawyers with Valli Kane & Vagnini LLP and Mehri & Skalet PLLC, who are pressing their case that they’re entitled to profits from all the expansions, not just the original 15 acres, according to the lawsuit.