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Luxury retailers sued over record-setting $122M Rodeo Drive land deal

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Two real estate players say they arranged the deal but were never compensated

Rodeo Drive’s House of Bijan storefront, a purveyor of luxury menswear and fragrances, sold in July for $122 million, shattering records as one of the highest ever per-square-foot deals in Beverly Hills and beyond. But instead of celebrating the historic sale with champagne and, you know, rich people stuff, both the buyers and sellers are now off to court amid allegations they avoided paying a hefty finder's fee to two local real estate players who helped to arrange the sale.

According to a lawsuit filed in July, Bijan, which had been leasing the space, purchased the property in January for around $107 million. While it remained in escrow, the company, led by chairman and president Dar Mahboubi, a major Beverly Hills property owner and the developer of the Rodeo Collection, began trying to flip the property for a quick profit. According to the suit, Mahboubi conscripted plaintiffs Andrew Cohen and Vincent Bouvier to help make that happen.

The two real estate professionals then entered into a contract with LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, designating Cohen and Bouvier as the intermediaries between the company and Mahboubi.

According to the suit, the two matchmakers also had an oral agreement with Mahboubi that entitled them to a one percent finder’s fee for arranging the sale. The plaintiffs, however, claim that once they informed Mahboubi about LVMH’s interest, the fashion and real estate mogul cut them out of the final transaction—apparently going so far as to tell representatives of LVMH he had never even met them.

Cohen and Bouvier say they are owed a $1.2 million finder’s fee for their communications with LVMH. Moreover, the suit notes that they missed out on some valuable "notoriety" that would have come from having their names attached to the sale—this is, after all, Beverly Hills, where a little notoriety goes a long way. All told, they are seeking $2 million in damages.

Now under new ownership, the House of Bijan’s familiar yellow storefront may not be long for this world. It's the flagship store of late fashion designer Bijan Pakzad and a by-appointment-only showroom that has often been referred to as the most expensive store in the world.

But LVMH didn't buy the building to be a landlord, and LA Business Journal reports that the company is considering replacing the structure with a larger building to get better value from the very pricey property.

A preliminary hearing in set for today in Los Angeles County Superior Court.