Vandelay Industries, Dubai

George Costanza always wanted to pretend to be an architect and evidently so did Brad Pitt. Back in 2008, Pitt, a self-proclaimed architecture enthusiast, was part of a team of design consultants working with the Graft architect firm and Dubai-based, Zabeel Investments on the development of an American-themed luxury hotel and resort. To date there is no hotel, only a looming lawsuit to the tune of $1.79 million clams.

Graft is suing Zabeel, which is owned by the emirate’s Crown Prince, for payment on services already rendered. Zabeel had agreed to pay about 34 million U.A.E. dirhams ($9.2 million) for the design, but Graft had so far received only about 27.5 million dirhams. There has been no public response from the investment company or from Mr. Pitt’s lawyer. Surprisingly there have been no reports of Graft asking Pitt to give the 2 mil to them, which is the same amount he spends on brunch every Easter Sunday.

The project was called the Hotel America and was intended to be a five-star, 800 room ‘America-themed’ hotel. That is until it was finally shelved after several stages of design. Mr. Pitt was quoted as saying in the release, “It will underpin not only my values for environmentally friendly architecture, but also embrace my career in entertainment.” Pitt has been involved in architecture and sustainable development for years, including helping build homes in New Orleans with Frank Gehry after Hurricane Katrina.

The case comes at a time when Dubai’s hotel market is bouncing back as UAE benefits from civil unrest in other tourist destinations in the Middle East. Property consultants Jones Lang LaSalle predict 5,000 hotel rooms will be developed this year alone. There has been no report as to whether Vandalay Industries has any stake in the development of Dubai resorts.


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