Amid all the flash of Donald Trump’s world-historically pricey inaugural bash, one lonely figure found himself down on his luck: Russian-Ukrainian oligarch Pavel Fuks, a real estate developer who was once a prospective Trump Tower Moscow partner.
Fuks claims in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court Tuesday that he forked over some $200,000 for so-called VIP access tickets to Trump’s inaugural ceremony.
But when January 20, 2017 rolled around, Fuks found himself abandoned. A car from then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) “never came,” leaving Fuks and his associates “walking in the rain to try to see the inauguration.”
The $200,000 they claim to have paid to Los Angeles-based lobbyist Yuri Vanetik never materialized in the form of tickets or access passes. So instead of watching his potential business partner get inaugurated as Commander-in-Chief, Fuks and friends “ended up returning to their hotel, where they watched the inauguration ceremony on television at the hotel bar.”
Fuks has surfaced in various news reports over the past years in part due to his mid-2000s role as a potential Moscow-based partner for a Trump Tower Moscow, and for his recent hiring of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Andrii Telizhenko, a Fuks associate, emphasized to TPM that Giuliani’s representation had nothing to do with the inaugural ticket purchase.
The New York Times first reported the lawsuit, and will soon feature Fuks in an episode of a TV show its running with FX.
U.S. campaign finance law prohibits inaugural committees from accepting contributions from non-U.S. citizens. Manhattan federal prosecutors are investigating Trump’s inaugural committee in part over allegations that it allowed foreigners to contribute to it in exchange for tickets.
Fuks alleges in the lawsuit that Vanetik duped him out of potentially becoming an accessory to a campaign finance violation.
Dismissing Vanetik “as a ‘master of selfies'” who “regularly posts pictures of himself with politicians on social media in an attempt to have others believe he has political influence,” the suit accuses the Los Angeles-based lobbyist of brazenly defrauding Fuks out of the $200,000 he claims to have paid for the tickets.
Vanetik denied the central allegations of the lawsuit, telling TPM he had his own claims against Fuks.
“I never defrauded Fuks,” Vanetik told TPM, calling the complaint a “PR stunt.”
“I have counter-claims against him for fraud and breach of contract, and will be filing a countersuit,” he said. “I regret having agreed to help someone as unsavory and confrontational as Fuks.”
The complaint quotes a message that Vanetik allegedly sent to Fuks from November 2016, saying that “there are guests that get tickets and guests that get VIP treatment. Regular attendance is a joke.”
From there, Vanetik is accused of luring the oligarch into a deal in which Fuks wired Vanetik $200,000 under the guise of “legal services” while giving nothing in return.
The lawsuit describes inaugural events that Vanetik pitched to Fuks, including a $20,000 per head “breakfast with 10 to 12 senators,” another $20,000 event with Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), and $35,000 per person events with the New York state GOP.
Vanetik also purportedly told Fuks that it would cost “an additional $350,000″ to meet The Donald.
“You need to be prepared to spend money to get access at events like this. Otherwise, to just have a fun time, you are all set,” reads one purported text from Vanetik to Fuks.
But when inauguration day came, Fuks was left standing in the rain.
At first, the lawsuit reads, Vanetik tried to play it off, telling his supposed client “we got f***ed on the dinner.”
“I hate this inauguration,” a message allegedly reads. “It is nothing but headaches.”
Read the complaint here: