New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been in the news quite a bit lately, given his fight with Airbnb and others. Now, following directions from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Schneiderman is looking into why a nonprofit was sold the rights to the World Trade Center name for just $10. That nonprofit’s licensing of the name has resulted in millions of dollars in fees all over the United States. In fact, businesses in 28 states have paid fees to the non-profit, according to a nameless New York official.

NY To Expand Probe Of World Trade Center Naming Rights

Information-seeking letters should arrive on Monday

The official told The Associated Press that letters seeking information on the deals should arrive Monday at 45 World Trade Center complexes, from Alaska to Florida. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the probe and talked under the condition of anonymity.

Naming rights were sold for just $10: New York

In a bizarre set of events, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site of the World Trade Center and its buildings, sold the naming rights to one of its executives for $10 as he was leaving the company. Perhaps even stranger is the fact that the Port Authority also has to pay for the use of the World Trade Center name along with hundreds of other companies.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is investigating a 1986 deal in which the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey sold the naming rights to one of its outgoing executives for use by a nonprofit organization called The World Trade Centers Association. The Port Authority owns the World Trade Center site but is among hundreds of entities worldwide that pay to use the World Trade Center name.

The Record newspaper reported in September that the Port Authority sold the naming rights to Guy Tozzoli in his role as head of the nonprofit WTCA. Tozzoli died in February.

Investigations into the naming rights are ongoing

“The attorney general is looking to find out how the WTCA got such a sweetheart deal on the naming rights, how much revenue the WTCA makes selling the name and how that price is set,” the official said.

A spokesman for the WTCA said the organization has “a long history of creating value” and acquired the naming rights legally.

“The WTCA lawfully obtained all rights to the World Trade Center trademark in 1986 in an agreement reached between the WTCA and the Port Authority,” spokesman Eric Dahl said. “This agreement has been honored by both parties for nearly three decades with the knowledge and participation of the governing bodies of both organizations and was re-approved by the Port Authority as recently as 2006.”

Given the high-profile nature of the name following September 11th, this probe may last some time.

“Using the millions of dollars in annual revenue from licensing fees paid by companies around the globe for the use of the World Trade Center brand, Mr. Tozzoli received exorbitant annual compensation,” Cuomo said.