Clarence Hardy claims to be the theater’s rightful owner, due to the wishes of its late owner, Judge John L. Phillips who died without a will as does Phillips oldest nephew, The Rev. Samuel Boykin who is the administrator of his estate.
The New York Times reports:
“These people are squatters,” said Mr. Boykin, who said he was affiliated with the Church of God in Christ. “The court system has allowed these criminals to stay in my building.” With property values in Bedford-Stuyvesant rising, Mr. Boykin said he could sell the theater for $3 million.
And then there is Dr. Lewis, who says Mr. Boykin had agreed to sell him the building for $1.6 million, only to renege when a better offer came along. He says he has put almost $300,000 into the Slave.
“We’re going to fight,” Dr. Lewis said. “Mr. John Phillips came to me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘Doctor, I believe you’re the only one who can save the place.’ We fixed it up. Now it’s a prime area; it’s worth pretty good money.”