The Hotel Guest Who Wouldn’t Leave

On a June afternoon in 2018, a man named Mickey Barreto checked into the New Yorker Hotel. He was assigned Room 2565, a double-bed accommodation with a view of Midtown Manhattan almost entirely obscured by an exterior wall. For a one-night stay, he paid $200.57.

But he did not check out the next morning. Instead, he made the once-grand hotel his full-time residence for the next five years, without ever paying another cent–he used an obscure New York housing law.

While the lawyer scrambled to file a lawsuit to revert ownership of the hotel, Mr. Barreto sent off an email to Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which manages the property, notifying it that he now owned it. A Wyndham representative asked for a litany of legal and sales documents to be sent as proof. (They were not.)

Mr. Barreto also sent a memo to M&T Bank, the hotel’s lender, and asked for all accounts to be put into his name. (They were not.)

Next, Mr. Barreto walked into the Tick Tock Diner, which is connected to the lobby by double doors. He dropped off a letter addressed to the owners. Monthly rent checks, he wrote, should be sent to a new address: Room 2565.

In a city where every inch of real estate is picked over and priced out, and where affordable apartments are among the rarest of commodities, Mr. Barreto had perhaps the best housing deal in New York City history.

Now, that deal could land him in prison.

The story of how Mr. Barreto, a California transplant with a taste for wild conspiracy theories and a sometimes tenuous grip on reality, gained and then lost the rights to Room 2565 might sound implausible — another tale from a man who claims without evidence to be the first cousin, 11 times removed, of Christopher Columbus’s oldest son

How did he do it? Matthew Haag at The New York Times explains in this bonkers story:

Read the whole story here.