Filed under: Jewelry
Kwiat will take over the Fred Leighton business, including its boutiques in New York City and Las Vegas, continuing to run them under the Fred Leighton name. Kwiat's other partners are Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC--partnering as FL Acquisitions LLC and FOF Inventory Holding, which consists of four estate and jewelry dealers including Windsor Jewelers, Robert Sadian and Mark Emanuel of European Arts and Antiques, Sima Ghadamian of Sima G. Ltd., and Moonbeam Consulting, whose principal is the company's original founder Fred Leighton.
Greg Kwiat, who will be chief executive officer of Fred Leighton, told National Jeweler that he see Fred Leighton as a "very complementary acquisition for Kwiat." After all both brands court the favor of Hollywood stars and both have retail stores on Madison Avenue in New York City and in Las Vegas. Kwiat hopes to boost Fred Leighton's retail presence and its wholesale presence in fine department stores and independent jewelers.
Jewelry collector and Fred Leighton owner Ralph Esmerian who filed the bankruptcy petition, bought Fred Leighton for $100 million in 2006 using a $178 million loan from Merrill Lynch and Co. Last year he planned a Christie's auction to recoup some of the brand's outstanding debt claims. Esmerian relinquished control of the company to a restructuring officer in January 2009 and earlier this month a bankruptcy judge signed an order that authorized the sale to Kwiat and the other two companies of Fred Leighton's assets, free and clear of all liens, claims, interests and encumbrances. The company's main creditor, Merrill Lynch will be the first beneficiary of the proceeds of the sale. In a press release issued by the company, Fred Leighton himself expressed enthusiasm that the Fred Leighton Madison Avenue store will continue to remain a New York landmark and that the brand "will continue to be the preeminent antique jeweler in the world."