The lawsuit’s allegations include claims that board members made ethnic slurs against prospective residents, including describing one couple as part of the “Jewish mafia” and suggesting that a Hispanic applicant was interested in a first-floor apartment so that he could more easily buy drugs on the street. The applicant, who was rejected, was married to a “prominent financially well-qualified white woman,” according to the suit, and though neither is named, the timing and circumstances suggest that it was Antonio Banderas.

"The suit accuses the board of several other instances of treating minorities unfairly," the article continued, "including repeatedly denying another black owner - the singer Roberta Flack - permission to install a new bathtub and then joking about it. Mr. Fletcher also accuses the board of self-dealing: shortly after his request was denied last year, a member of the board who lives on the same floor put her own apartment up for sale, offering it as a package deal with the apartment Mr. Fletcher wanted to buy.

“Although such conduct by a co-op board on the Upper West Side of Manhattan at the beginning of the 21st century may seem surprising, this behavior was consistent with the defendants’ extensive pattern of hostility toward nonwhite residents of the building,” said the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

"Regardless of whether the accusations are proven in court," the article said "they are a potentially embarrassing crack in the facade of one of the world’s most celebrated buildings and fodder for those who feel they have been wronged by that peculiar New York institution, the almighty co-op board. In a statement, the Dakota’s board said that it had not yet reviewed the lawsuit, but that “Mr. Fletcher’s application to purchase an additional apartment in the Dakota was rejected based on financial materials he provided.”

"Mr. Fletcher, who is known as Buddy, declined to comment beyond the accusations in his suit. He grew up in Waterford, Conn., and he and his two younger brothers all earned their undergraduate degrees from Harvard. Geoffrey Fletcher, the youngest, won an Academy Award last year for his screenplay for the movie “Precious.” Todd Fletcher is an accomplished composer.  In 1991, Alphonse Fletcher, then 25, sued Kidder, Peabody & Company, his employer, accusing the Wall Street bank of paying him only half of the $5 million in annual compensation that he said he was due. He claimed the bank considered the amount 'simply too much money to pay a young black man.' An arbitration panel eventually awarded Mr. Fletcher $1.3 million.  Mr. Fletcher founded Fletcher Asset Management in 1991 and set up an office on the 48th floor of the General Motors Building with commanding views of Central Park. As a privately held firm, it is not required to disclose its assets, but according to an investor presentation, its flagship arbitrage fund has claimed an average return of 8 percent a year since 1997," the article said.

Mr. Fletcher currently lives in an eight-room, 2,600-square-foot apartment with three bedrooms, three and a half baths, two maids rooms and Central Park views, according to an old sales listing kept by Michele Kleier of the brokerage firm Gumley Haft Kleier.

"When Mr. Fletcher tried to buy another apartment for his mother in 2002," the article continued, "the building approved the deal on condition that no one else ever stay in her apartment, even overnight, without board approval, a requirement that the suit said had never been imposed on the unit before. Mr. Fletcher decided to sue because he said he had been blocked from buying a neighboring two-bedroom apartment he planned to use to accommodate his growing family; he is married and has a 2-year-old daughter. He signed a contract to buy the unit for $5.7 million, without a mortgage, from the estate of its former owner, Ruth Proskauer Smith.  Mr. Fletcher said that the board began questioning his finances, and that it unfairly concluded he was overleveraged with business loans even though he provided documentation that his net worth was $80 million. It also questioned whether he had made good on his philanthropic commitments and, according to the lawsuit, began spreading rumors that his finances were shaky. At the same time, the board approved two other buyers with arguably less desirable financial credentials, the suit claims.  In 2004, to mark the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation in schools unconstitutional, Mr. Fletcher pledged $50 million to institutions and individuals working to improve race relations. He has donated $4.5 million to Harvard to endow the Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Professorship, a position held by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Apart from a few hundred thousand dollars a year Mr. Fletcher gives in charitable stipends, it is unknown how much more of the $50 million he has donated."

After Mr. Fletcher’s contract was rejected by the Dakota, Pamela Lovinger, who owns an apartment on the other side of Ms. Smith’s, stepped down from the board. Ms. Lovinger then put her apartment up for sale, offering it as a package deal with Ms. Smith’s former apartment for $19.5 million. A message left at Ms. Lovinger’s home was not returned Tuesday evening.

The suit, which is asking a judge to order the board to approve Mr. Fletcher’s purchase and to provide more than $15 million in damages, offers other examples of insensitive or discriminatory treatment, including the apparent reference to Mr. Banderas, who was rejected in 2005, and the remark, in 2007, about prospective buyers, who were ultimately approved, being part of the “Jewish mafia.” Public records show that the next apartment to close in that building was a $20.5 million home bought by Philip and Cheryl Milstein, of the Milstein real estate family. The suit also said that the building’s only other black shareholder, “a prominent individual in the arts” - Ms. Flack - “endured the humiliation of applying multiple times for permission to fix or replace her bathtub,” and that Mr. Fletcher overheard two board members snickering about it. The lawsuit also said that while Ms. Flack, when taking her dog out, was forced to obey the rule that dogs had to ride in the service elevator, white residents were permitted to use the main elevator with their dogs. “There are several of us up in arms about how Buddy is being mistreated,” Ms. Flack said Tuesday. “I don’t know if there’s just discrimination, but inadequacy, on the part of the people who make the decisions.”