Afghan Princess Fights to Keep Her $390 Upper East Side Pad

AUG 4, 2014 3:05PM ET / NATIONAL

Image AP
Ertugrul Osman, accompanied by his wife Princess Zeynep, arrive in Turkey in 2004. (AP)

Deposed Ottoman royalty. A hectoring landlord. An insanely low Manhattan rent. The New York Times has found the perfect real estate story.

The saga of Zeynep Osman, who still bears the title Her Imperial Highness, came to the Real Estate section of the Times today as Osman battles eviction from her Lexington Avenue three-story walk-up apartment.

After her building was sold in 2011 for $10.1 million, her new landlord, Avi Dishi, went by to see her that October.

“The first words out of his mouth were: ‘I want you out. I paid too much for this building to have you here,’ ” Ms. Osman, 69, recalled, sitting inside her large living room sharing platters of cookies and crackers — a courtly gesture she said she also extended to her landlord, along with any other guests.

Her husband Ertugrul Osman, who died in 2009, had his pathway to assuming the position of Sultan of the Ottoman Empire interrupted by the establishment of the Turkish Republic. Osman’s obituary captures some of what became of his life on the Upper East Side:

For the last 64 years, Mr. Osman — formally His Imperial Highness Prince Ertugrul Osman — lived in a rent-controlled apartment in a four-story building on Lexington Avenue in the East 70s. At one time he kept 12 dogs in his home, a two-bedroom unit up a narrow, dim stairway, and enlisted neighborhood children to walk them.

The apartment, which has reportedly fallen into some disrepair, remains stabilized at a $390 rent. (According to Osman, that figure doesn’t include legal fees and upkeep.)

Both Osman and her husband’s families had to flee Afghanistan in the 1920s.

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