Meghan Markle & Prince Harry's Decorator Allegedly Abandoned U.S. Client to Work on Royal Cottage
Andrea Olshan, CEO of Manhattan-based real estate firm Olshan Properties, is filing a suit against interior designer Vicky Charles of Charles & Co. Design, claiming that Charles became too focused on her work with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and neglected her previous commitment to Olshan.
According to court documents acquired by PEOPLE, which were filed with the New York County Court on August 29, Charles was hired by Olshan to complete the interior design of two homes in East Hampton, New York, and a Manhattan apartment. The combined fee for Charles's design services on the three projects was estimated in the documents at $545,000.
Charles did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Olshan says she "unfortunately bought into Ms. Charles' advertising and self-promotional promises but never received the level or type of services they contracted to receive," according to the suit. Instead, she claims, Charles "walked off the job" in order to "work for more 'A-List' clients such as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex."
Charles — who is famous for her work for celebrity clients like David and Victoria Beckham, George and Amal Clooney, and Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis — was linked to the design of the royal couple's new home, Frogmore Cottage, this summer.
The five-bed property on the grounds of Windsor Castle is Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's primary residence, and Charles reportedly worked on the home in mid-2019 in anticipation of the arrival of the couple's first child, Archie Harrison.
The court documents claim that Charles passed off her duties with Olshan to her junior staff, "one of whom disappeared on less than a weeks' notice because her work visa had expired."
"[Charles] did little more than have Charles & Co staff members repackage internet images that Ms. Olshan had provided to them as style inspiration," the documents allege. "Ms. Olshan repeatedly requested at minimum a design scheme but never received even that, let alone purchase or installation services."
Olshan says that she actually met with Charles around July 2019 to discuss the lack of progress, during which Charles "was entirely apologetic" and "acknowledged that she had been utterly disengaged," chalking it up to "her business overseas."
"Ms. Charles admitted that she was too committed overseas and needed to focus more on her U.S. business," the document claims. "She assured Ms. Olshan she would remedy the issue. But the following day, Ms. Charles simply quit instead, leaving Plaintiffs with three unfinished projects, and absolutely nothing to show for the quarter-of-a-million dollars they invested with [Charles's firm] for their services."
Olshan says that since Charles left, she has been "forced to incur additional architectural fees . . . as well as other wholly unnecessary expenses."
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At the end of June, a Buckingham Palace source told PEOPLE that Frogmore Cottage had been "substantially completed," including redecorating the exterior doors, windows and walls and upgrading some of the outbuildings — while also re-landscaping the garden and adding some extra garden lighting too.
British taxpayers funded the overall renovation costs through the Queen's annual Sovereign Grant and Buckingham Palace figures show it cost the public around $3 million. However, "anything moveable" or in the cottage gardens has been paid for by Harry and Meghan themselves.
Harry and Meghan were also said to have dipped into their pockets for anything deemed too expensive for the public to provide — such as an upgraded kitchen, bathroom, fitted wardrobes or flooring.
While the $3 million construction costs may seem high for a newlywed's first pad, it's all part of the wider $55 million spent by the Queen to conserve the royal palaces over the past 12 months.