Investor linked to detained Chinese oil tycoon snaps up 10 condos at Ben Shaoul’s Gramercy Park tower

The buyer is linked to a Chinese developer and a financier who has a history with some of NYC’s priciest homes

TRD New York /
Jul.July 22, 2019 11:16 AM
Magnum Real Estate's Ben Shaoul and 385 First Avenue (Credit: Getty Images and StreetEasy)

Magnum Real Estate’s Ben Shaoul and 385 First Avenue (Credit: Getty Images and StreetEasy)

An investor with ties to a now-jailed oil magnate and some of New York’s priciest pads appears to have sealed the deal on an equity trade in Ben Shaoul’s condo conversion in Gramercy Park with 10 condos.

In late June, as a surge of closings ripped through the city ahead of a new set of taxes on residential real estate going into effect, 10 sponsor units traded at Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate-developed building 385 First Avenue. The portfolio of condos closed for a combined total of over $33 million, according to public records.

Nine of the units span the 18th to the 21st floors and a three-bedroom unit on the 15th floor, and range in price from about $2.5 million to $5.1 million. The 21-story building, also known as Coda, contains 114 units with a 24-hour concierge, a programmed fitness center and a landscaped roof deck and open-air terrace, according to StreetEasy.

The authorized signatory on the 10-unit transaction is listed as financier Gongwen Dong, the CEO of Hong Kong-based private equity fund manager, Kaiyuan Capital. A source familiar with the situation said Kaiyuan is an investor in Magnum’s Coda building and described the deal as a “re-structure on the behalf of Kaiyuan’s investors, not a purchase.” The source said Kaiyuan’s investors are in control of the units.

The entity listed in public records as the buyer — SHS Upper City NY II LLC — has ties to Chinese developer, CL Investment Group, which The Real Deal reported in early 2017 had sold a 32.9 percent stake in Magnum’s 385 First Avenue for about $33 million.

Though the source familiar with the deal said Dong was not working for CL Investment Group, SHS’ two subsidiaries are headquartered at Dong’s Long Island home. The same entity is also the sponsor of 555 West End Avenue, another condo project which CL co-developed Cary Tamarkin.

Dong has also signed deeds for a condo at 432 Park Avenue and the penthouse formerly owned by Barclays CEO Bob Diamond at 15 Central Park West. According to the Wall Street Journal, the entities behind the big-ticket purchases — both of which list Dong’s mansion in Great Neck as primary addresses — were controlled by Chinese oil tycoon Ye Jianming and chairman of conglomerate CEFC China Energy as of last year.

Ye was last seen in February 2018 before he disappeared and officially surfaced in the Chinese government’s custody. At the time, he was in contract to buy about $80 million in property in the Big Apple. As of December 2018, the conglomerate was being controlled by the government and some of its various global assets were being sold off.

Dong and Magnum did not respond to requests for comment.

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