KENSINGTON — A Swedish party planner is accused of throwing lavish affairs in the “Secret Mansion,” a suspected illegal venue and hotel set up in a Kensington home he didn’t own and that he ran using unpaid “indentured servants” who lived in its basement.
The enterprise fell apart when one of those “servants” refused to clean his dishes. The “master tenant” demanded the woman leave his house, then called 911 to report she’d armed herself with a knife and refused to leave, according to legal documents and several interviews.
“It is a really bad situation,” said Kay Quesada, a 21-year-old college student who says she spent months living in the basement of 846 McDonald Ave. under the unofficial employ of Robin French.
“And the police wouldn’t do anything about it.”
Quesada has not been allowed back since her run-in with police on Sept. 12. But her husband remains in the building where French allegedly earned thousands of dollars listing rooms and “pods” on Airbnb as well as selling tickets to boozy, raving parties.
The impromptu business has been going for almost two years, according to building owner Josh Einhorn. It appeared at the same time as a Redditor named Robin420 boasted he earned $110,000 annually without doing any work.
“I have two guys that live in my basement for free, in exchange for being indentured servants,” Robin420 wrote on June 6, 2017.
“It’s gotten to the point where I don’t have to do anything at all, period.”
‘Down And Out’ At The Secret Mansion
When Robin French began advertising his Kensington event space, the “Secret Mansion,” in May 2017 he told potential partygoers it was the perfect place to “shake it easy.”
French and his partners posted invites to Secret Sundays, Secret Mansion Masquerades and “Vibes At The Mansion” – lavish parties with an open bar, barbecue, live music and DJ that cost up to $70 a person to attend. The invitations posted on the website DanceDeets openly named him as an organizer.
“Do you guys know about Secret Mansion in south Brooklyn?” Robin420 asked followers of the Brooklyn subreddit. “Awesome DIY venue …host to comedy shows and live performances.”
A video tour of the Secret Mansion, posted to Instagram on Dec. 10, 2016, shows the venue’s main floor and basement area which had been fitted with a stage, makeup room and a private couch area for “doing the smokey.”
Photographs shared by Robin420 also show hordes of people dancing in a dark, cramped room cast in purple light, a row of pinball machines and band equipment waiting to be played and a fire pit set up in the spacious back yard.
Robin420 did not explain the responsibilities of his “indentured servants” in his posts, both of whom he said were “down and out” and “had nowhere to go,” but did expand on the lifestyle their work allowed him.
When not welcoming guests, Robin420 spent his time grilling in the back yard, playing the piano, restoring old pinball machines, and making time to “fart around on reddit,” he wrote.
“I really [lucked] out.”
Secret Mansion revelers ushered in the New Year on Jan. 1, 2017, with champagne, a countdown and a massive balloon drop.
Speaking to Patch, French refused to confirm he is Robin420. “If that was me, it would be pretty damaging,” he said. “It really reads bad, the terminology, but I want to say it’s semantics.”
But French did tell Patch that, like Robin420, he resides in the Secret Mansion, had a live-work agreement with two fellow tenants, and supported himself by hosting events in his home.
Joshua Einhorn — who owned the building until it was foreclosed on in June — became aware that his home had been turned into a hotel and nightclub when he returned from Las Vegas in the fall of 2017 to survey repairs French requested he make, he said.
Einhorn was stunned to discover French and his girlfriend had built a roof deck, a soundproof recording studio, a backyard bar and installed bunk beds in the house, the building owner told Patch.
“This building I rented to two people he was using as an army barracks,” Einhorn said. “I said, ‘You’re running an operation. I’m not fixing nothing.'”
French declined to respond when asked if he advertised rooms on Airbnb. But Robin420 told Redditors the site was responsible for 90 percent of his guests and an Airbnb spokesperson told Patch that multiple listings at 846 McDonald Ave. were deactivated on Sept. 13. and will be subjected to an internal investigation.
Brooklyn Legal Services real estate attorney Gregory Louis said listing multiple rooms inside a single-family home violates Airbnb regulations and city laws. Louis is not representing anybody involved in this case.
“That is the classic definition of a single-room occupancy,” said Louis, “and that has not been allowed for a very long time.”
Louis also noted that advertising parties where alcohol will be served on social media sites violates State Liquor Authority laws that mandate New York bars carry a license. But house parties are the loophole; New Yorkers are allowed to invite guests to their homes and serve alcohol for free.
“It’s on the books,” French said of his event-planning business. “As long as you don’t go over 70 people, and you can’t be making noise past 10 p.m.”
Einhorn tried to warn French the building was not equipped to handle so many residents and his events could prove to be a fire hazard.
A rapper performs at the Ugly Sweater Holiday Party on Dec. 10, 2016, which featured live music, an ugly sweater competition and “an entire mansion to explore.”
“He knew exactly the laws,” Einhorn said. “He’s playing the innocent game.”
An exasperated Einhorn returned to Las Vegas, hoping French would do as he asked and get rid of the bunk beds. He held onto the idea that French had everything under control.
And French did have things under control, until one of the “indentured servants” decided he wanted to marry and live with a woman named Kay Quesada.
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