A young Manhattan dancer hoodwinked her 73-year-old lover into buying her a luxury $775,000 Upper West Side condo — and then swiftly gave him the boot, a new lawsuit charges.
Natasha Diamond-Walker, a stunning 27-year-old Fordham University grad, is accused in court papers of feigning love for prominent Italian theater director Antonio Calenda, then tricking him into footing the bill for the pre-war apartment.
“She manipulated our client and took advantage of him to finance her purchase of a luxury Manhattan apartment,” said Calenda's lawyer, Marc Fitapelli. “She never had any intentions to repay our client and she abruptly severed their relationship as soon as she got what she wanted.”
Diamond-Walker, an up-and-coming performer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, did not return calls. But court papers paint her as a gold-digger who used her age and beauty to outwit Calenda, the well-known director of Teatro Stabile in Trieste.
Calenda, who directed the 1973 film “One Russian Summer,” starring Claudia Cardinale and Oliver Reed, filed suit Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court in a bid to recoup the cost of the condo — plus $1 million.
Diamond-Walker met Calenda last year in Italy when they worked together on “Cercando Picasso (Looking for Picasso),” colleagues said. She was working as a dance apprentice with the Martha Graham company, which collaborated with Calenda on the show that features dancers interpreting Pablo Picasso’s dreams, inspirations and writings.
They began a 10-month romance, and Calenda showered her with expensive gifts, especially at the start of their May-December affair. LaRue Allen, executive director of the Martha Graham company, described Diamond-Walker as “outgoing, vivacious, curious” — “a wonderful dancer at the beginning of her career.”
She said the relationship was not a company matter. “They had a personal relationship ... They're both adults,” Allen said. “Things don't always have a way of working out.”
Calenda, who lives in Rome and has been separated from his wife for a decade, does not dispute he gave her pricey gifts at the start of their affair.
But he insists the 795-square-foot, one-bedroom unit on West End Avenue wasn’t one of them. When Diamond-Walker asked Calenda for help purchasing the condo, the director insisted on two things, Fitapelli said: that the money be a loan, and that they have a written agreement.
They signed the agreement last July, and she closed on the condo in September. “Several months” later she “suddenly severed” the relationship, court papers show. Diamond-Walker repeatedly told Calenda that she considered the $775,000 a gift and “would never repay” him, according to the lawsuit.
Their written agreement requires no payments until December 2018, when the entire amount is due. As a gift, Calenda charged no interest — a nicety he has since withdrawn.
Calenda is now asking the courts to declare the loan a mortgage, or order Diamond-Walker to repay the entire amount immediately with interest — roughly $800,000. He’s also seeking $1 million in punitive damages, Fitapelli said.
As a new member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Diamond-Walker was expected to perform Monday night at the International Dance Festival in Vail, Colo. Her lawyer, Eric Cohen, did not return a call.
As recently as spring, she wrote of the experience she was gaining while working in Italy with Calenda — this time on a musical/dance production of The Bacchae by Euripides, which drew 8,000 people a night.
“I have tasted the most fragrant blood oranges, eaten the freshest fruits of the sea. Yet still, at night I'm painted with cold white mud, naked in front of the theater for work,” the 2007 Fordham grad wrote. “Knowledge and experience is earned in every way.”