Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #392

Besides hundreds of "good riddance" messages, the response from one beloved neighbor hopefully says it all...

July 9, 2013 
Disgraced National Arts Club President Settles Lawsuit 
O. Aldon James Was Accused of Gross Mismanagement



The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday that it had obtained a $950,000 settlement in the case of O. Aldon James, the longtime-and now former-president of the National Arts Club, who had been accused of costing the club more than $1.5 million through mismanagement, including raiding the club's bank accounts for personal use and taking over club-owned apartments that he stuffed with a huge collection of collector's items.

Tuesday's settlement also resolves outstanding litigation between the club and Mr. James, his brother John James, and their colleague, Steven Leitner, over the improper use of their memberships and positions in the club.


Mr. Schneiderman's suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court last September, contended that Mr. James abused the position he held for 25 years and that he should be required to reimburse the club and be barred for life from holding leadership positions in any nonprofit organization.


Located on Gramery Park, the 115-year-old club, with more than 2,100 members, came under scrutiny in March 2011 when O. Aldon James stepped down amid growing concern from board members about his tenure. He had been the unpaid president of the club from 1986 to 2011.


"After 100 years, the National Arts Club remains one of New York's important cultural institutions," Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. "Today's settlement allows the club to close the door on years of bitter discord and start to recover from the havoc that Aldon James and his cohorts wrought. The message is clear: Those who abuse nonprofits for personal gain will be held accountable by my office."


Under the settlement, the James brothers and Mr. Leitner must vacate their premises at the club by the end of July and cannot contest their expulsion from the club. The James brothers are permanently barred from serving as officers, directors or fiduciaries of any nonprofit in New York State.


The lawsuit also charged Aldon James with improperly removing $274,000 from the Kesselring Fund, a restricted club endowment fund intended to support the dramatic arts. The suit charged that he used that fund to finance the restoration of the club building's fašade.

The settlement obtained by Attorney General Schneiderman resolves the suit and also brings to an end all of the various lawsuits in the ongoing court battle between the club and the James Parties. Under the terms of the agreement, the club will receive $900,000.


In May, the club chose longtime member Rev. Thomas Pike to be the new president.

Click here to view the article on the WSJ website.