Brian McGrory

Up above it all, sound and fury

Residents of the Ritz-Carlton have complained about three brothers on the 36th floor and their late-night parties. Residents of the Ritz-Carlton have complained about three brothers on the 36th floor and their late-night parties. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Brian McGrory
Globe Columnist / August 26, 2011

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Imagine, for a moment, really making it in life. Imagine suddenly finding yourself with the means - yes, money - to buy the condominium of your dreams in downtown Boston.

So you buy not in just any upscale building, but the Ritz-Carlton, the development that soars high above Boston Common and whose very name is synonymous with luxury. And you’re not going to settle for just any floor, but you want to keep riding the elevator until your ears are popping and the views can’t be any better.

And now that you’re there, now that so much of the world is spread out beneath you, imagine coming face to face with the Talaat family, your new neighbors.

In the nearly three years since the trio of brothers moved into a $3 million-plus unit that their father purchased on the 36th floor, they have become the scourge of the Ritz’s South tower, regularly blaring music during crowded after-hours parties that rage until 4 a.m.

How regularly? The condominium association has had more than 31 complaints about the brothers’ late night antics. At least 27 of those complaints have come in the fragile hours between midnight and dawn. Boston police have been called to the address some 10 times to get the brothers to quiet down.

Police have been punched in the face; each of the brothers has been arrested on charges of keeping a disorderly house; Ritz-Carlton staffers have been harassed and the building has hired extra security guards just to pace their floor on weekend nights - all this according to police reports and documents filed in court.

And still, the music has played on.

It’s played on to the point that the brothers have accumulated thousands of dollars in condominium association fines for their disruptive behavior. The fines double with each incident, - from $500 to $1,000 to $2,000, and so forth. It didn’t matter, because they’ve ignored them.

This week, the case spilled over from the rarefied environs of Avery Street to the decidedly ordinary surroundings of Suffolk Superior Court, where the Millennium Place South Residential Association is seeking to place a lien for $85,000 against Unit 36C.

“I’ve tried to resolve this,’’ said Thomas Dwyer, the well-known attorney representing the condominium association. “I’ve tried for well over a year. All I get are promises. I get no resolution.

“There’s a sense of entitlement here,’’ added Dwyer. “I am willing to tolerate it to a point, but I’m far beyond that point.’’

The Talaats - Tarek, Youssef, and Mohammed - did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Their real estate agent, Michael Doherty, who is also named as a defendant in the suit, returned a call and said, “I know the family well. They are good students in local universities. The $85,000 is a disputed amount of fines and fees and penalties, and they intend to defend themselves in court.’’

Pressed on the issue, Doherty added, “They’ve paid all their condo fees. They feel the fines are unwarranted and excessive.’’

The dispute is unfolding above a city that is no stranger to tension between residents and students, whether it be rowdiness in Brighton and Allston, or fraternities in the Back Bay, or the mobs of out-of-state kids who gather to celebrate sports championships even if they don’t know any of the players’ names. Rarely, though, does it unfold in the absolute lap of luxury.

The Talaat brothers, who attend Northeastern University, Suffolk University, and Boston Architectural College, are the sons of a spectacularly wealthy Egyptian real estate tycoon who is facing legal problems of his own in his native country. Actually, Hisham Talaat Moustafa is in an Egyptian prison, having been convicted of paying a hit man to murder his mistress, the late Lebanese pop singer Suzanne Tamim. He initially received the death penalty, but his sentence was reduced to 15 years last year in a case that has riveted the Arab world.

Before the convictions, the father had purchased the 2,700 square foot, three bedroom, three and a half bath unit, with sweeping views of Boston Common and the Charles River.

In Boston, the lawsuit offers an unflattering view of his sons, while offering a surprising glimpse of life at the Ritz-Carlton, considered one of the most desirable addresses in Boston since the two towers opened in 2001, with restaurants, upscale sports club, cinema complex, and valet parking. The suit portrays drunken revelers wandering the halls, music pulsing through the walls, and a sense of utter helplessness on the part of residents.

More specifically, the suit cites Jan. 30, 2009, when Boston police arrived at 2:55 a.m. to find several people in Unit 36C smoking marijuana. “One of the men present refused the officers’ requests to lower the music volume, then struck one of the police officers in the eye with a closed fist, and struggled violently with others as they placed him under arrest,’’ the suit read.

A police report of another incident, at 3 a.m. on April 10, 2010, described a bizarre scene. “As soon as officers got out of the elevator they could hear a very loud party from all the way down the hall,’’ the report stated.

When police knocked on the door, they could hear people saying “Shhh,’’ and scurrying around inside, though the music continued to play loudly. “Officers continued to knock for the next 20 minutes with no response, however the noise continued,’’ the report said.

Finally, when the door opened, revelers began to walk past the police, saying they didn’t know who lived there.

Inside, the officers “identified the residents of the apartment, who were found hiding and pretending to be asleep,’’ the report said.

“This address is well known to many officers,’’ the report stated. “The residents of this apartment are also well known to officers.’’

Dwyer said that he was close to negotiating a memorandum of understanding and a reduced settlement number with John Brazilian, a well-regarded Boston lawyer who represented the Talaats in the case, but that the brothers would never sign the deal. Brazilian said he is no longer involved and declined to comment.

“We don’t want a lawsuit,’’ Dwyer said. “But are we going to allow kids to come into the building and create total havoc?’’

Building residents credit Brazilian - and extra security guards stationed on the 36th floor on weekend nights - for getting the Talaats to curb their loud ways. There have been no complaints in the last four months, even as the brothers have refused to pay the fines.

Doherty, one of the most prolific agents in terms of sales at the Ritz, said the brothers have been improving as neighbors recently. Still, he said, they were assessed $16,000 earlier this year for bouncing a basketball in their unit as they cheered a Celtics game on TV - what Doherty views as an excessive fine structure.

“They are Celtics fans,’’ he said. “You can put that in.’’

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at