NYC Authorities blocked a gelato maker’s $2.4 million illicit leasing scheme: lawsuit

The illegal hotel rental plan of a gelato entrepreneur has been halted, according to a Monday statement from city officials.

According to a new complaint filed by the city, Turkish gelato artist Gokhan Simsek, of Hell’s Kitchen, reportedly stole $2.4 million from 6,800 units in 58 buildings that he illegally rented out for brief stays between 2020 and last year.

According to the petition, the multi-million dollar enterprise was branded as “Stay & Smile,” and the units were advertised on both Simsek’s now-defunct website,, and on well-known websites like Airbnb and

The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement filed the lawsuit, which asks for $1 million in damages in addition to $350 to $3,500 for each short-term rental code infraction.

According to local officials, Simsek, who also owns Gelatoville, a place serving “authentic Italian artisan gelato,” had around 250 listings overall when he was a “brazen” underground hotelier.

According to the lawsuit, a large number of the illegal residences were situated in Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side.

A new rule requiring the registration of short-term rentals as well as complaints-driven reports that City Hall received, according to officials, led to the discovery of Simsek’s suspected transactions.

Mayor Eric Adams stated in a statement, “We are stopping illegal operators from taking away our safe, stable, and affordable housing with our short-term rental reporting and registration laws.” “The lawsuit filed today makes it very clear that you are not permitted to use our priceless housing stock for illegitimate personal gain.”

According to the lawsuit, Simsek kept listing and renting the unlicensed short-stay rooms even after officials informed him that he was the subject of an investigation.

Numerous eviction complaints claim that Simsek co-owns Gelatoville with Ahmet Demircioglu, a former male model. In June, a new store in Hell’s Kitchen debuted.

In an Instagram post, Gelatoville stated, “Founder Gokhan Simsek is bringing the authentic flavors of Italy to New York with his artisanal creations.” Simsek developed his gelato-making abilities while residing in Italy.

Unnamed in the city’s lawsuit, Demircioglu disclosed last month that he oversaw multiple Airbnb properties to the local media source W42ST.

According to him, he expanded the business to 19 apartments after discovering that Airbnb was “really profitable.” “We run several apartments here that we do short-term, long-term, so we have several apartments and all of them have a roof, so we usually throw a party almost every month,” he said on the website.

Before the city’s declared lawsuit, Simsek was already in hot water for his other purported artisanal inventions, which were unlawful short-term lodging facilities.

Tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid rent have been the subject of several landlords’ requests for real estate judgments; at least two of these lawsuits were started after the landlords learned about his temporary side projects.

Simsek’s visitors were “causing a nuisance,” according to a landlord in Hell’s Kitchen, because of their “constant traffic in and out of your apartment.”

Simsek was accused of continuing his illicit rental activities in spite of “multiple demands” and “clear and unambiguous evidence of Defendants’ wrongdoing” in a lawsuit pertaining to an East 77th Street rental.

Simsek’s landlord in Hell’s Kitchen right now wants to evict him and his friend from Gelatoville for failing to pay more than $8,000 in rent.

Simsek claims in court filings that he is deducting rent “because of repairs.”

When contacted by The Post on Monday, Simsek denied having any connection to Stay & Smile.

In 2021, Demircioglu left a wonderful review and was classified as a “happy customer” on the Stay & Smile website. He did not respond to a request for comment on Monday evening.

A “True Urban Experience with a Low Cost, Endless Possibilities, and Friends Along the Way” was once offered to prospective guests by the company.

On the now-archived Stay & Smile website, the stated “vision” is to “be a friend who has a home all over the world.”

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