NOVEMBER 06, 2011
Lew Geffen is a traditional street fighter, and anyone crossing his path had better watch out or be well armed. He learnt the ropes of the real estate industry whilst working for his mother Aida Geffen; after six years and a long conflicting relationship he started Lew Geffen Estates. Geffen ended up competing with his mother for nearly twenty years from the early 80s.
During this time there were several battles between mother and son. Lew Geffen was witnessed throwing chairs across the office when he found out that his mother had beaten him on a deal or had out manoeuvred him yet again, often such acts were done publically which only served to further add fuel to fire, making him more determined and vengeful.
Lew Geffen started the Sotheby’s franchise in 2003 in Johannesburg, later expanding to the Western Cape; these early franchisees started flourishing under the management of Rod and Ron Hemphill, in later years other franchisees were created in other parts of SA.
It was not long after the success of some of the franchise operations, that Lew Geffen started engaging in battle with his operators. After identifying a successful operator, he would breach the franchisee on some trumped up charge, often unsubstantiated, simultaneously seizing the franchise, its entire revenue stream, its shop and agents. The franchisee unarmed, and more often than not, not having sufficient resources to fight a minimum court battle of R500,000, was forced to walk away. Lew Geffen, having seized the franchise and staff, then preceded to sell the franchise to a new operator for a handsome profit often making a quick 2 million Rand profit. Alternatively, he would wait for a struggling franchise to close shop and then sell the franchise to a new operator, often retaining the previous operator’s goodwill, staff and premises.
Street fighting tactics and the lives it has affected
2005: The Somerset franchise operator is forced out by Geffen due to a personality clash; Hemphill’s take over the franchise.
2006: Henk and Susanne ran a successful Blouberg franchise; they were forced out by Lew Geffen simply because he did not like them.
June: 2008: Jackie Cameron, (KZN) fights Geffen’s hostile takeover and manages to sell to Julie Solomon after a court battle.
June 11, 2008 Maurice Levin - the Lew Geffen Sotheby’s public relations manager, was dismissed after he passed on information that Geffen told him to distribute to the press saying “property prices were set to drop by 40 percent by the end of this year from last year's highs”. Levin took Geffen to court, winning his case with an out of court settlement.
2009: Julie Solomon from KZN succumbs to a Geffen hostile franchise take over.
April 2010 Geffen accuses (Atlantic Sea Board) franchisee of not employing enough Jewish Agents, Geffen cites Jankowitz as a problem (did Hitler not say the same thing about the Jews?) Geffen starts a public assault on the Atlantic Sea Board franchise, lasting 18 months.
May 2010: Savile Row Scandal – Lew Geffen attempts to sell Savile Row after bypassing the company’s shareholders and directors. The matter goes to court, with Geffen losing.
2010: Conrad Steinhobel, the Hout Bay franchisee operator, goes belly up; Geffen sells the franchise to a new operator in the same week, rather than allowing the previous operator a means of selling the business.
June 2010: Lew calls a security guard a “f**king kaffir”, an out of court settlement is reached.
October 2011: Seizure of Atlantic Sea Board franchise by Geffen after he lied to a High Court Judge. The order gives Geffen permission to take full control of franchise business, staff, the agents and all of the assets. The High Court reverses its decision after it is discovered that Geffen lied to the Court – all too late, because by the time the Court overturned its earlier ruling, Geffen had already sold the franchise to a new operator. The process to get it back will last several months due to the complexity of our legal system.
October 2011: Geffen accused Atlantic Sea Board operators as “gutter snipers”
November 2011: Geffen is in Contempt of Court after not returning files and papers after raiding franchisee’s office. One of the files was seen in the possession of Geffen’s attorney Thomson outside the Cape Town High Court on 4 November 2011.
He has bulldozed his way in business affecting the lives and livelihood of hundreds. Does he have any morals or ethics one must ask. Jason Rohde, Geffen’s CEO is also guilty of perjury and contempt of court, and Thomson, Geffen’s attorney is the legal brain behind Geffen’s legal strategy. Sandy Geffen, Lew’s estranged wife is distraught; Geffen’s eldest son Saul was unable available for comment; Tragically Geffen’s other son Barak, committed suicide in September 2009, and those close to Barak knew of the ruthless relationship he had with his father.