NYC wine shop Sherry-Lehmann faces $3M tax debt


Sherry-Lehman is scrambling to keep the lights on — literally — as the iconic New York City wine shop fends off lawsuits from angry customers and struggles to pay a hefty tax bill, the Post has learned.

Conn Edison representatives visited the Swanky store at 550 Park Avenue on February 27, giving staff a “thirty minute warning” to collect their personal belongings before the power was shut off over unpaid bills, a Position according to the source.

Shayda Gilmer — the shop’s chief executive and co-owner, who sources claim has used the shop as her personal liquor store even as its finances have soured — is finally keeping the lights on, according to insiders. A lot of cash was coughed up.

“Maybe wasn’t answering calls,” a source told the Post. “Finally at the last minute he talked to the guy and paid a little over half of the balance online to keep us in the lights.”

It was the latest dramatic scene inside the upscale store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which has faced angry complaints from customers in recent months about expensive wines they paid for weeks, months or years in advance. Cash or immediate delivery requested.

Shayda Gilmer is the co-owner of 88-year-old Sherry Lehman.

The staff, meanwhile, has not been paid since the showdown with ConEd, sources close to the situation said.

Last Wednesday, the 88-year-old retailer — which has boasted clients including Greta Garbo and Andy Warhol for decades — dropped from being New York state’s ninth-largest tax defaulter to 13th for a recent payment of $506,627. Public records New York Department of Taxation and Finance show.

Still, the wine store still owes $2,766,431 in back taxes, according to the agency.

A spokeswoman for the store told the Post: “Sherry-Lehman has been in constant contact with the state tax agency and has been paying the balance since last March, and the company is working diligently to reach a zero balance.”

As co-owner of Sherri-Lehman, Gilmer is likely preferring the tax man because he is personally liable for the company’s taxes — whether the company files for bankruptcy or not, experts say.

Bare shelves at Sherri-Lehman.
Sherry-Lehman’s shelves were bare during the all-important holiday season.
Lisa Fickenser

A spokesman for the state agency told The Post that the state’s tax authority has the power to shut down a business and sell its assets if it doesn’t pay.

“Not paying sales tax is legally seen as walking into Fort Knox and taking the money,” said Fred Stevens, a bankruptcy attorney at Klastadt Winters Juror Southard & Stevens.

Sherri-Lehman’s tax payments aren’t helping clients who claim they were stiffed. They include Raymond Fong and Pak Chung, who are suing for more than $800,000 worth of rare, expensive Bordeaux — the cases of Chateau Margaux, Mouton Rothschild and Chateau Lafayette Rothschild — that they claim they paid for and Should have received in 2019.

Sherry-Lehman's exterior entrance.
New York owes nearly $3 million in unpaid sales tax on the store.
Gabriella Bass

“Mr. Gilmer had many excuses for the past three years, including that the plaintiffs were waiting for their wine, Chung claimed in the January affidavit. Gilmer blamed “trade rates, Covid-related issues, shipping problems, etc.,” Chung alleged.

Sherry Lehman, whose law firm Nixon Peabody has filed a motion to dismiss the case, told the Post in a statement in December that the lawsuit “has no merit” because the company “refused customers their deposits.” Offered a full refund – which they declined.” At the time, the company said the wine was “scheduled to arrive in mid-February.”

Asked about Sherry-Lehman’s recent tax payments, Sheldon Gopstein, an attorney for two clients, said that as of the first week of March, the wine still hasn’t been delivered.

Exterior of Sherry-Lehman's entrance.
The New York Department of Finance has the power to close a store for nonpayment of sales tax.
Gabriella Bass

“They’re just taking steps to help themselves,” Gopstein said.

A Sherri-Lehman spokesman said: “The company’s shipment policy is straightforward: As soon as Sherri-Lehman receives purchased product from its suppliers, we ship it to customers.”

Gopstein is also representing another customer who is suing the wine store for $184,452 for failing to deliver wine he purchased, according to court documents. Elsewhere, a Long Island trucking company, Hub Truck Rental Corp., sued the retailer to recover nearly $40,000 in leasing fees, court papers show. Sherry Lehman never responded to the complaint and a judge ordered the retailer to pay the $37,558 debt.

A Sherri-Lehman spokeswoman said, “The company is taking care of its financial obligations with vendors and suppliers as the company continues to resolve any past dues that arose during the pandemic.

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