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They're On the Upswing In New York

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 23, 1998

  Style Showcase

    Inga Russian model Inga Banasewycz is suing Wall Street businessman Orhan Sadik-Khan for $3.5 million over what she says is a love affair gone sour. (John Roca/New York Daily News)
Once you've got the swanky Manhattan apartment, the splendid beach house in the Hamptons and, still, your stock market dough keeps piling up, what do you invest in?

A babe.

If the tabloids and the divorce lawyers are to be believed, mistresses (and male consorts) have become as integral a part of Manhattan's dizzying bull-market affluence as $300,000 Lamborghinis, $1,000 bottles of wine and $28,000 Hermes crocodile leather purses. Indeed, one Wall Street hedge-fund trader recently demanded in court, at the end of an affair, that his mistress give back a $28,000 Hermes purse. She refused.

As prominent New York divorce lawyer Raoul Felder explains, "Mistresses are a direct function of the economy. There is no question about it. I can tell you how the economy is doing by how many mistresses come into my office looking for justice. I don't need no Greenspan."

Harriet N. Cohen, another prominent divorce lawyer, elaborates: "There are lots and lots of mistresses, that's for sure. But now there are lots and lots of women making millions of dollars on Wall Street. I have been made aware that they get themselves their own consorts. It goes with the money and the power."

The mistress meter of economic good times went through the roof this morning as New Yorkers were treated to another in a series of front-page tabloid tales about a "leggy" young mistress, a "Wall Street sugar daddy" and how their lubricious good times have come to a heavily lawyered end.

The Daily News howled: "Russian Beauty Slams Wall St. Exec with $3.5M Sex Suit." The New York Post lured readers to its four-story, two-page, love-nest package with: "The Kinky Tycoon: Ex-Model Files Dirt-Filled Suit." Both papers featured fetching photographs of an attractive young woman the Post called a "love-loot looker."

In the lawsuit filed in state court here on Monday, former model Inga Banasewycz, 28, alleges that PaineWebber advisory director Orhan Sadik-Khan, 68, kept her as his mistress for more than two years while making a number of lucrative promises.

"The defendant agreed to pay plaintiff the sum of $500,000 if she would not work, and would remain at home so that the defendant could meet her at lunch time, or after work, for sex," according to court documents.

While charging that Sadik-Khan's "appetite for sex was insatiable," the court papers say that he insisted that Banasewycz "come to his house in [Old] Greenwich, Conn., so that they could engage in wild sex in his wife's bed." The suit also says that Sadik-Khan, who is married and has grown children, impregnated her twice and then persuaded her to have an abortion each time.

The legal grounds for the unusually salacious suit, according to Keith G. Rubenstein, lawyer for the jilted mistress, is that Sadik-Khan "breached an oral contract."

"He promised to pay my client $500,000 and, in return, she gave up any opportunity to start a career, to start her own family and to travel to Europe," Rubenstein says.

Lawrence Hirsh, lawyer for Sadik-Khan, dismisses the suit as "frivolous. I expect we will be moving to dismiss these claims."

Hirsh says his client ended a relationship with Banasewycz in 1995 and "he wanted to put the whole relationship behind him."

"She was making similar threats in 1995," Hirsh says. "So he made a payment to her without admitting that he owed her anything. He agreed to pay her some money so that she would leave him and his family alone. He made a payment – I am not going to tell you how much – and she released any claims she had."

The lawyer acknowledges, however, that his client and Banasewycz had "some dealings after that." The lawsuit focuses only on the relationship after 1995.

Divorce lawyers agree that a jilted mistress almost always faces a steep climb in trying to extract money from her former lover – especially if he is married. Sadik-Khan's wife, interviewed at her posh home in Connecticut, has told New York newspapers that she supports her husband and accused Banasewycz of trying to "ruin my family."

"Her probabilities of success are somewhere between nil and nonexistent," says Felder, who added that in 27 years of divorce work in Manhattan he has never seen as many jilted mistresses come through his office looking for settlements as during the recent boom on Wall Street.

Other divorce lawyers are not quite so pessimistic about the odds facing a mistress.

"The way women collect is using the concept of contract law," says Marna Tucker, a prominent divorce lawyer in Washington. "If he says 'I just want you available for me, just promise me you will be there all the time,' and she changes her life, then she may have a case."

But Tucker and other lawyers agree that a woman must show in court that her "consideration" in fulfilling her part of the contract is something other than merely giving him lots of great sex. Tucker says a woman needs to prove that she did other tangible things, such as decorate his house, make his meals or entertain his business associates.

"Sex cannot be a consideration," Tucker says. "That would not be upheld by a court because sex for money is illegal."

If the divorce lawyers are right, then Banasewycz may be out of luck. As her own lawsuit explains, her sole responsibility in the affair with Sadik-Khan was "that she would be available to have sex with him whenever he wanted her."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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