Design District Developer Craig Robins Ordered to Pay $2 Million to Rival Developer Over Private Jet Dispute
Oh, the problems of Miami's mega-rich developers. When they weren't busy gentrifying neighborhoods and erecting luxury destinations, developers Craig Robins (currently transforming the Design District) and Ugo Colombo (known for building several Brickell luxury skyscrapers and owning the Collection car dealership group) decided to buy a jet together in 2007. However, when the recession hit in 2008, the duo's deal soured and they've been involved in a long simmering lawsuit that also involved Fontainebleau owner and supermodel Elle Macpherson's husband Jeffrey Soffer over the plane ever since.
Today, after a two-week trail a jury ruled in favor of Colombo. Robins is now on the hook for $2 million.
Robins and Colombo knew each other socially, and in 2007 Robins decided to buy half of a $22 million Bombardier Challenger jet that Colombo had bought earlier in the year. The pair then leased the jet to their respective companies, Robins' Darca and Colombo's CMC Group. Soffer was a former business partner of Colombo's and agreed to have his Turnberry Management company manage the jet and act as a middleman. Robins and Colombo agreed to pay for 100 percent of the respective cost of their individual use of the jet and split the fixed costs incurred right down the middle.
The arrangement worked out for a while, but then the 2008 recession hit.
Toward the end of that year Robins refused to pay a $200,000 bill. Robins claimed that Colombo agreed to buy back his share of the jet but then reneged on the verbal agreement when the recession hit.
Colombo claimed that Robins was a "sub-prime borrower" who bought more than he could afford at the height of the real estate bubble only to realized he couldn't afford it when that bubble burst.
A jury ruled on Monday in favor of Colombo. Robins will now have to pay over $2 million in maintenance fees to Colombo and his company.
"All I ever wanted was for Craig Robins to pay his fair share of the airplane expenses," Colombo said in the statement. "I am glad the jury agreed with me. Not only did they award us damages, but they also confirmed that expecting my partner to pay his bills was not malicious prosecution."
As it turns out Colombo no longer enjoys the jet. The holding company set up to buy the jet was put into bankruptcy and the plane is currently on the market for well below its original $22 million purchase price.