UPDATED, Thursday, Jan. 22, 11:13 p.m.: A Walker Tower penthouse unit that’s been ensnared in one of history’s greatest financial scandals just received another massive price cut.
The penthouse, which was bought by an LLC for a downtown record $50.9 million in 2014, was just relisted Thursday at $35 million.
There’s good reason the seller is eager to unload the asset: the feds are keen to seize it.
In 2016, U.S. federal prosecutors filed a complaint alleging that Abu Dhabi-based businessman Khadem al-Qubaisi purchased the 6,000-square-foot penthouse using funds diverted from either state development fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) or International Petroleum Investment Co. (IPIC), an entity al-Qubaisi controlled that guaranteed some of 1MDB’s bond sales and owned a minority stake in some of its energy assets.
Prosecutors say al-Qubaisi conspired with a shadowy figure named Jho Low to pilfer funds from the 1MBD fund, with some of the billions in stolen cash going toward the purchase of real estate in New York — nearly $350 million worth. (Low also bought the majority stake at the Park Lane Hotel for $200 million as well as a $30 million apartment at the Time Warner Center, according to prosecutors.)
At Walker Tower, federal prosecutors said that al-Qubaisi signed a purchase agreement for the pad in late 2013, and later assigned the contract to an LLC managed by Neil Moffitt, CEO of the Hakkasan nightlife group.
The unit was first listed for sale in 2015 — as the 1MDB scheme was unraveling — with an asking price of $70 million. The Walker Tower apartment languished on the market for a year before it was reduced again, this time to $55 million. The latest cut to $35 million represents a 35 percent discount off the original listing price, and a “loss” of at least $15.9 million.
The five bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom penthouse spans an entire floor and has 360-degree views of the Hudson River and city skyline.
The price cut follows a turbulent period for the two men linked to the LLC.
In 2017, Moffitt stepped down as CEO of Hakkasan and liquidated his interests in the company. Last year, it was revealed that he had been paid a $50.5 million “golden goodbye” by the Abu Dhabi-owned company, which suffered losses of $145 million in the 12 months to June 2017, according to reporting by U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.
Al-Qubaisi, meanwhile, gave his first media interview since being jailed — but not charged — in Abu Dhabi. The former adviser to Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed al Nahyan told the Wall Street Journal that he’s being made a scapegoat by the government of Abu Dhabi.
In September 2017, a federal ordered the Justice Department to hold off on seizing 1MDB assets in New York and Los Angeles connected to the scheme until a criminal investigation was conducted.
Editor’s note: Though the penthouse is listed in Moffitt’s name, prosecutors believe al-Qubaisi controls the asset. The story has been updated to reflect that belief.