Margate Stalemate. Who Owns Lucy the Elephant? Lease Expiring in 2019.

Lucy CEO, Rich Helfant, in green shirt.
Lucy CEO, Rich Helfant, in green shirt.

Who owns Lucy the Elephant? Rich Helfant’s Save Lucy Committee? Or the City of Margate? That looks to be the real question behind why Lucy’s lease, which expires in 2019, has yet to be extended.

Both sides are blaming each other for not coming to an agreement.

Rich Helfant: We still believe we own Lucy The Elephant.

According to, Helfant said he personally would welcome a boutique hotel next to Lucy, where Ventura’s Greenhouse bar and restaurant now operates, as long as it did not interfere with sight lines from Atlantic Avenue that he says are protected by Lucy’s status on the National Historic Registry. Helfant said a case could be made that the nonprofit Save Lucy Committee had put in so much of its own money in upkeep that it could make an argument for ownership. Full Story Here.

Helfant Believes the Save Lucy Committee should own Lucy The Elephant.


MAY 2006: Margate is looking for a solution to its elephant problem.

The problem is a dispute between Margate and the Save Lucy Committee over a requested $37,000 subsidy for maintenance and insurance on the structure.

Margate Commissioners say the Save Lucy Committee is wasting money and is overpaying its executive director.

Helfant has threatened to take Lucy on the road. City officials view that as an idle threat. Any move would have to be approved by the state.

Sept 20, 2018: Rich Helfant (CEO of Save Lucy Committee) doesn’t want to sign a new agreement. That’s what Margate’s Mayor Becker said during the Sept 20 Commissioners meeting.

Margate City Admin Richard Deaney:

  • Ground where Lucy stands, is city property.
  • Lucy is owned by the city.
  • Lucy is a national landmark.
  • Richard Helfant doesn’t own Lucy.
  • The Save Lucy Committee doesn’t own Lucy.

From 2012 Press of Atlantic City:

Q: Going back to 2006 or so, things sort of became heated with the city. There were questions about insurance, who owns Lucy, as opposed to the land it’s on. There was even talk for a while of Lucy possibly leaving the city. So what essentially happened, and where do things stand now with the city of Margate?

A: The relationship between the Save Lucy Committee and the city of Margate.

The question of ownership … is still out there. We firmly believe that the Save Lucy Committee owns the three structures. The city believes that they have claim to the three structures. I don’t know if that’s going to be resolved tomorrow, but we’re working together for the common goal of promoting, preserving and interpreting Lucy for generations to come.

Lucy is such a valuable asset to Margate, and I believe that the city government today recognizes that, and we’re hopeful that our negotiations … will be fruitful and we can move forward. I don’t know if the ownership question will be answered, but we still believe we own it.

Richard Helfant of Lucy the Elephant vs Margate Commissioner John Amodeo.


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