Antonia Milonas (left) and Spiros Milonas
When a multimillionaire-shipping magnate opened Tuesday’s New York Post, he said he was shocked to learn he was suing his wife of 16 years.
“How did this happen? I was so surprised. We opened The Post and we are there,” said 88-year-old Spiros Milonas, referring to a photo of him and his wife, Antonia Kotovos Milonas, 62, that ran with the article.
The businessman said he believes his “daughters convinced” his longtime attorney, Judd Burstein, to file the suit behind his back.
“This is one of the most hurtful cases in my life,” said the Greek-born Milonas, wiping tears from his eyes.
The daughters, Sofia Dingle, 50, and Claire Milonas, 47, work for their father’s Manhattan-based company, Ionian Management.
Their stepmother, Antonia, claims the Manhattan civil suit is a bid to gain “control” of the $500 million private-investment business.
“They’re not happy that I remarried,” Milonas explained. My daughters hold everything against Antonia.”
He added in a one-on-one telephone interview the next day that he “loves” his daughters and is torn apart by the family friction.
The suit, which was filed in Milonas’ name, claims Kotovos “routinely yells and acts abusively toward” him.
But Milonas told The Post several times, both in front of his wife and without her present, “Write that I love Antonia.”
He claims his attorney never received his permission to file the suit.
But the vice president of Ionian Management, Andrew Dafnos, said Milonas was in their Columbus Circle offices on June 8 when Milonas asked Burstein to file the suit.
“He directed me to file it,” Burstein said. Burstein also alleged that Milonas’ health is in serious decline, claiming that his client did not recall signing financial documents that gave control of a bank account to his wife.
Burstein’s comments were contradicted by New York billionaire John Catsimatidis, who has known Milonas for over 30 years.
“He’s fine,” Catsimatidis, owner of the Gristedes supermarket chain, told The Post.
Milonas fired Burstein this week after the lawyer would not withdraw the lawsuit.
“I believe that you have been unduly influenced, harassed and intimidated by Antonia,” Burstein wrote in a June 13 e-mail to Milonas, his daughters and others.
Ray Hannigan, a lawyer for the daughters, said they “had nothing whatsoever to do with the commencement of that lawsuit.”