San Francisco artist protesting eviction by husband of museum curator

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's housing shortage is pitting neighbor against neighbor. A local artist is claiming that a curator at the de Young Museum is evicting him.

He's protesting outside the museum, where his landlord's wife works.

Artist David Brenkus has lived on the top floor of a three-story building in Duboce Triangle for the past 34 years.

He pays $735 a month for the two-bedroom unit. "I put my love into it, I put myself into it. You can look at any little spot, whether it's a flaw or it's something nice, you see a little bit of me in it," Brenkus said.

Now he's getting evicted.

Just one floor below him, you'll find a very different story. The Harshawat family purchased the building in 2013 - the ground floor unit for the grandparents, middle floor for Ish and the top floor for brother Kaveet.

Only Kaveet can't move in because Brenkus refuses to move out, even after the family offered him an $80,000 buyout.

"I think our lawyer said it's the most generous offer he's seen in 25 years," Ish said.

In February, they filed for an Ellis Act eviction, which allows landlords to evict tenants if a family member plans to occupy the unit.

"We've tried everything we could. This was a last resort," Ish said.

They were caught off guard when Brenkus organized protesters at the de Young Museum where Ish's wife, Emma Acker, is an assistant curator.

"I just find that bizarre, that an art curator is evicting a local artist," Brenkus said.

"I'm not going to lie, it hasn't been particularly easy because this is a somewhat sensitive time for our family. I'm three weeks post-partum," Acker said.

Beyond the emotional rollercoaster, her name isn't even on the title. "I have no legal ability to evict David Brenkus. So the claims are factually inaccurate," she said.

The Harshawats say they understand Brenkus' frustration and they are following the law, but eventually Brenkus has to go.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.