The Real Deal New York

The Chinese real estate tycoon in self-imposed exile at the Sherry-Netherland speaks out

Guo Wengui's friend and former Chinese official was sentenced to life in prison last week
December 31, 2018 11:00AM

Guo Wengui and the Sherry-Netherland penthouse at 781 Fifth Avenue (Credit: Getty Images and Douglas Elliman)

Chinese billionaire and dissident Guo Wengui is increasingly worried about his future following the conviction of one of his friends.

Guo recently spoke to the New York Post from his $67 million penthouse at the Sherry-Netherland on Fifth Avenue, where he has been living while seeking political asylum. His friend and former top Chinese intelligence official Ma Jian was convicted last week for allegedly taking bribes from Guo and has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Ma said Guo gave him $15.9 million in bribes to expedite his real estate projects, but Guo has denied these charges and said the Chinese government is also coming after him with corruption claims. Guo told the Post that death threats against him from the Chinese government have increased since Ma’s conviction.

China’s Communist Party “wants to break me,” he said. “But I don’t crumble under pressure. I get stronger from it.”

Interpol released a “red notice” seeking Guo’s arrest last year, but the U.S. and China do not have an extradition agreement.

“In China, I had 200 bodyguards, and lots of property, but I was never free,” he told the post. “In America, I have freedom because I trust the country and the system.”

Guo has been trying to sell his Sherry-Netherland penthouse and hired Douglas Elliman’s Richard Steinberg and Istvan Ritz to market it in November, replacing Kathy Sloane of Brown Harris Stevens. The asking price has been reduced multiple times and is currently at $67 million. [NYP] – Eddie Small