It came true: Caroline Calloway, the influencer, troll grifter, and infrequent writer, has responded to the lawsuit from her landlord alleging she owes over $40,000 in unpaid back rent and also sublet her apartment to several other local media figures — poet and “hooker laureate” Rachel Rabbit White and her husband, novelist Nico Walker — without his permission.
Calloway, you may recall, was the subject of a viral article in New York magazine written by her former friend and ghostwriter. Her apartment, you may also remember, looks like this. The lawsuit from her landlord was filed shortly after the latter article came out in March. Now, four months later, Calloway’s lawyer has responded with an unusually verbose answer. Alongside the conventional rebuttals one finds in a legal response, there is a “Facts” section that begins like this:
There are fancier apartment buildings in New York City than 205 West 13th Street (the “Premises” or “205”), but to Ms. Calloway, for over ten years, it was the most perfect home she had ever known. There is no doorman, no bedrooms even—every unit in 205 is a studio—but she loved that little building like no home she has had before or since. In fact, Ms. Calloway had a very troubled childhood, which is why she spent so much money and time making improvements to the property – because 205 was not only her favorite home, but also her first.
This section goes on to use the word “chattel” seven times. Before we get into the weeds of the particular chattels, I’d like to offer a largely, but not entirely, baseless conspiracy: Calloway wrote this part herself.
Now for the weeds. The answer goes on to describe that Calloway moved into the studio in September of 2011, when the “space that is now a beautiful backyard was a barren, garbage-strewn, packed-dirt lot.” For six years, “this miniature muddy landfill stayed that way.” But in 2017 — or as she put it: “after yet another spring and summer had come and gone with so much wasted potential right outside her window” — Calloway determined that “if she did not fix this problem, no one would.” This is the next paragraph. Please read it in full:
It took half a year just to clear out all the rot. Autumn upon autumn of decaying leaves. Shredded wrappers and plastic bags. More broken glass than really made sense for an uninhabited slice of land. One billion cigarette butts. Dozens upon dozens of hours of work. Ms. Calloway bought gloves, hoes, rakes, more hoes, more rakes. She recruited friends. The glass kept ripping their gloves, but they finally found a brand that worked. Once they cleared the debris, they realized the earth underneath was packed down hard as bedrock and when it was tilled, the dirt filled the air with a wretched smell. Ms. Calloway bought a black sand beach’s worth of topsoil and a bioweapon’s worth of fertilizer.
The rest of the description is so good that we are excerpting the document below. But Calloway’s lawyer (aha…unless?) goes on to recount her gardening routine and expenses in detail. Among other things, it notes that Calloway spent $10,000 on “gardening supplies and seedlings” between 2017 and 2022. Her focus was on perennials like “daffodil bulbs or fern tulips,” but also annual plants like “tulips, grass, wildflowers, and herbs,” and expensive additions like “two lilac bushes…the night-blooming jasmine, and the mini-Japanese maple.”
But the still greater investment, the lawyer allegedly argued, was Calloway’s work on the garden’s infrastructure, and her $25,000 contribution to improving her “personal space.” Her additions to the garden included: five “winding paths,” pavement stones, brick lining, a pond base, some water plants, “several trellises,” an antique birdbath, two birdhouses, a birdfeeder, a grill with a rain cover, two tables, eight patio chairs, a “freestanding hammock,” and 100 tea candles for the aforementioned paths. As for her personal space, she allegedly retiled the kitchen and bathroom. She replaced the porcelain sink, and “installed a French mid century-modern hanging lamp, as well as a real Murano-glass Venetian chandelier” — the latter of which is worth more than $3,000.
Perhaps a lawyer did write this. As reporter Paris Martineau pointed out, Calloway’s lawyer, Randy Kleinman of Gerstman Schwartz LLP, also represented renowned grifter Jacob Wohl and his elderly friend Jack Burkman, in a lawsuit alleging they sent “threatening” robocalls to discourage Black voters from showing up to the polls during the 2020 election. Like Calloway, Wohl and Burkman also attracted attention for a series of bizarre, though more malicious, media stunts.
But Kleinman’s answer in that case was very straightforward. There was no “facts” section. The word “chattel” never showed up. Maybe he’s experimenting with voice. Or perhaps Calloway contributed some original language to give the statement a bit of her signature style — much like when she allegedly spent $1,000 on designing and installing custom sconcing, thus adding “an Old-World grandeur to an otherwise unassuming studio.”
Here is the “Facts” excerpt in full: