Artist loses rent-stabilized Tribeca loft, fined $185K for putting it on Airbnb


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Eileen Hickey, 72 — whose artwork has appeared in “Eat Pray Love” and other films — was first sued by the owner of 460 Greenwich St. in 2014 over illegal sublets in her rent-stabilized home of 43 years.

Landlord Robert Moskowitz claimed Hickey, whose apartment spans the entire fourth floor, had raked in some $4,500 a month via her Airbnb guests from Spain, California and New Orleans.

Meanwhile, she admittedly owns an East Village condo — but claims to use it as an office.

Moskowitz caught Hickey red-handed when a Spanish sublet tenant hung a banner from the fire escape of the 1,400-square-foot unit to welcome friends.

“Hickey has engaged in outrageous behavior using her rent-stabilized apartment as an illegal hotel,” Moskowitz fumes in court papers.

“She has engaged in rent profiteering and commercial exploitation . . . Her actions are in violation of the [state] Rent Stabilization Code and a number of other laws.”

But Hickey, a former Guggenheim Museum curator, insists she’s a “platinum tenant” who turned to Airbnb briefly to pay her now-former husband’s medical bills.

“I used Airbnb starting in September 2012 for a total of 85 nights over 10 months to help pay the bills in a brief family emergency, not to earn a living,” she told The Post.

Hickey claims an attorney she had consulted gave her the green light to list the two-bedroom unit on Airbnb.

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The interior of Hickey’s apartment

“I wouldn’t knowingly break the law,” she said, referring to the state’s Multiple Dwelling Law, which bars tenants from renting out their apartments for fewer than 30 days at a stretch. The Rent Stabilization Code also prohibits tenants from profiting off below-market-rate pads.

She said she earned a total of $14,000, which she claims she’s paying back to her guests in a desperate attempt to save her apartment.

An Airbnb spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Hickey lost the case after repeatedly failing to turn over ­court-ordered documents, including bank and credit-card statements, because she was “in the Hamptons,” according to the landlord.

This week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Nancy Bannon authorized a city sheriff to “take all necessary steps . . . to effect the removal and ejection of Eileen Hickey . . . from said premises at 460 Greenwich St.”

Hickey, a downtown-gallery fixture, has until June 9 to get out. “To have no place to go at age 72 is quite horrible,” she said.

The $185,000 fine covers the landlord’s legal fees plus a penalty for violating the Rent Stabilization Code.

Industry experts say it’s the highest known penalty in the United States for an individual Airbnb host illegally renting out a single property.

Large-scale Airbnb operators who list multiple properties on the website have previously been fined more than $1 million by the city.


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