The Real Deal New York

Qatar walks away from record $90M UES townhouse contract

Oren, Tal Alexander stay mum on troubles at 19 East 64th St.

August 06, 2014 08:30AM
By Hiten Samtani

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From left: Tal Alexander, Oren Alexander, Carrie Chiang, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and 19 East 64th Street

Clockwise from top left: Tal Alexander, Oren Alexander, Carrie Chiang, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and 19 East 64th Street

The nation of Qatar has pulled the plug on a $90 million purchase of an Upper East Side townhouse at 19 East 64th Street, putting an end to what would have been the city’s priciest commercial townhouse deal, The Real Deal has learned.

In January, Qatar, represented by Douglas Elliman’s Oren and Tal Alexander, entered into contract to buy the 20,500-square-foot townhouse from the Wildenstein family with the intention of using it as a consulate, as TRD reported. At the time, the Alexanders said the contract was for nine figures — which means at least $100 million — but a source familiar with the property confirmed yesterday that the contract was for $90 million.

The Wildensteins, who are prominent New York City art dealers, were being represented by the Corcoran Group’s Carrie Chiang. They were using the townhouse as an art gallery, but it now lies vacant, and questions remain as to whether they will look for a new buyer.

The closing was slated for late June. Shortly before then, however, lawyers representing Qatar approached the Wildensteins and indicated that the deal could die, according to a well-placed source. A new closing date was set for late July, but once again the Qataris’ lawyers expressed that their clients were not going to complete the acquisition.

“The deal did not close as scheduled,” a spokesperson for the Wildensteins told TRD yesterday, but declined to comment further.

When approached by TRD last month, Oren Alexander said that he was “patiently waiting for closing.” He cited certificate of occupancy issues as a reason for the delay, but insisted that the deal would be sealed in July. Chiang didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The Alexanders on a recent trip to Qatar. (Photo: Business Insider)

The Alexanders on a recent trip to Qatar. (Photo: Business Insider)

This week, both Alexander brothers did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The deal, which they aggressively publicized when it went into contract, would have been the largest single sale of their careers.

Ahmed Yousef Al-Rumaihi, consul general for the state of Qatar in New York, told TRD in a statement in January that the property was in “move-in condition.” But he couldn’t be reached for comment this week.

What caused the Qataris to get cold feet remains unclear. It’s unlikely to be an issue of money – the nation’s sovereign wealth fund has about $170 billion in assets under management, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. And Qatari royals have shown a penchant for buying trophy Manhattan real estate, including the $35 million Ellen Biddle Shipman Residence at Beekman Place, a $47 million townhouse at 22 East 71st Street formerly owned by Aby Rosen, and multiple apartments at Gary Barnett’s One57, according to news reports.

But sources speculated the Qatari government may be looking to lower its profile, in the light of severe criticism heaped against it after a report concluded that hundreds of migrant construction workers have died due to poor working conditions in the oil-rich nation. A recent ESPN documentary estimated that, at the current rate, more than 4,000 migrant workers will die by 2022, by the time Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup.

In anticipation of the closing, the Wildensteins had already vacated the art gallery and cleaned out the space, a source said. It’s uncertain what the fate of the property will be, and the Wildensteins’ spokesperson declined to comment about whether the family would pursue litigation.

  • truthordare

    Carries face says it all..no commission. sad face

  • Graveshift

    Publicizing signed contracts is bad karma in this biz

  • WannaBeLandlord

    Oh please, One57 which was developed by an orthodox jew was financed by Abu Dhabi. You sound ignorant saying stuff like that considering Gulf State Arab royals are all about business.

    • moneytalks

      Well said.

    • Nonsense

      Exactly, please lets don’t even get there

  • Reality Check

    or the fact is that those 2 clowns publicized everything at contract signed (who does that in such transaction?), in a commercial deal like this you brag after is sold and closed if you really want to, amateurs brother really the “A-Team” Amateurs…learn to give the real estate brokerage a professional image not their clowns gimmicks, why they are not posting right and left in this moment? what happened

    • PappysSon

      That’s not fair to the Alexanders. This one didn’t close, but so many of their other deals have. Also, they are very young and many more opportunities ahead of them.

      • Sh!t My Tenants Say

        Yes, it is fair. Anyone who has spent any respectable amount of time in the NY Real Estate biz knows you don’t publicize, or even congratulate people, for signed contracts.

        • Gimmicks

          I couldn’t agree more ,even more they post it all over like it was a closed deal at 100 million, whilst it was in contract for 10 million less, please…they didn’t even know the buyers directly, there was a famous art dealer that was actually “brokering the deal”

  • The B-Team

    It was a front anyway. Qatar was repped by a big time European broker who was doing the A-Team a favor by letting them take the credit for it. They lost face here, not a commission.

  • Robert Moses Playground

    Jake, you have a point. Qatar, Turkey and Iran are the backers of Hamas, which is intent on destroying Israel. This deal died just as the latest Gaza war was underway. UAE is not Qatar, the deal was financed a long time before the current war, and One57 did not involve Israelis. Arab Gulf State royals are NOT all about business, as is seen by their current support of terrorism.

    • Sure

      Robert are you kidding?? all of the investments around the city are majorly involved between the Arab prominent states and strongly Jewish Developers…but smartly they don’t shout and scream to the world doing business together due to the politics involved, this was a quiet off the market deal until those made a huge publicity over a contract

    • richjew

      One57 has Israelis involved

    • CodeRed

      You sound ignorant at best. Business is business.

  • Herve Senequier

    It amaze me that some colleagues in our industry keep lying just to make themselves look better. And there are a bunch at very successful level. Not only it tarnishes our industry, create mistrust from the public, and produces nothing, but in the end they just look like lying clowns. At least when exposed, they have nowhere to hide. Proud to have kept our teams values and honesty. Now that’s the way you create a name for yourself!

  • Ronald Edelstein

    Qatar not only abuses migrant workers but they are the largest sponsors of terroism in the world. They financed Hamas in this last war. Terror tunnels built with their “Blood Money”. Close ties with Iran and Muslim fundamentalists make them especially dangerous. Let them go back to where they came from and stay there. Any self respecting person would tell them to take their money and shove it. The sellers and brokers seem to be Jews and should be ashamed of themselves for even considering to have sold to them. I’m glad to hear the deal broke up.

    • CodeRed

      You sound like an idiot who has no idea how the modern world works. Saying that every businessman in Qatar sponsors terrorism is like saying every Israeli citizen is responsible for the civilian casualties in Gaza. Business is business and fortunately, most of it is done by people who don’t let politics dictate their business decisions.

      • Jake

        These are not business men who happened to live in Qatar, this is the Qatari government, the very same people who fund Hamas.

  • irobot

    Embarrassments to the industry…keep hanging out in your fancy shallow clubs with the other losers…very pathetic….there goes the reality show boys

  • Char4Dew

    That’s very nice (NOT) US has sold out to every foreign country.
    Most Countries allow foreigners to purchase one property only.
    Did you all realize that the Saudis own City Bank.. they do.

    Lets just rape the US and than wonder where the american dream went….:(:(:(

  • K-NaS

    what happens if the Alexander brothers spent the commission already?

    • Top Brokers

      in exchange they promise the Qatari a free night at those clubs they go, with the addition of pictures on their Facebook most probably

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