A condo that was seized by the U.S. government in its case against Malaysian fugitive Jho Low was one of five luxury properties to go into contract in Manhattan last week.
The 4,500-square-foot unit at 102 Prince Street has 2 bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms and 14-foot ceilings. Also known as 118 Greene Street, it went into contract asking $8.5 million — down from $9.9 million when it was listed last July, according to Olshan Realty’s weekly market report.
An entity connected to Low paid almost $14 million for the condo in February 2014. It is one of several properties seized by authorities to recoup funds from the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal.
Low’s former penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental also went into contract last October, but has yet to close.
The total asking price of homes that went into contract last week was nearly $31.3 million, a relatively strong showing for the luxury market, which has been hit hard by the economic shutdown. In fact, last week was the first time in over a month that more than two contracts were signed in any given week.
Donna Olshan, CEO of Olshan Realty and author of the report, called it “somewhat encouraging,” adding that was “really all I can say.”
The prevailing uncertainty makes interpreting the market a complicated affair. The state’s shutdown of all non-essential business, which prohibited in-person home showings, is due to end May 15. However, it could be extended. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that construction and manufacturing upstate would be first to reopen.
The priciest contract last week was for a 5,859 square-foot duplex at 595 West End Avenue, which had been on and off the market since 2012.
It went into contract asking $9.5 million — down from $11.975 million originally. The unit has 5 bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms, a media room, a playroom and a library.
Of the many seized properties associated with Low, who is believed to be hiding in China, only one has closed. That property, a mansion in West Hollywood, sold for $18.5 million in March — a sharp drop from the $39 million Low paid in 2012.
Both New York properties were listed with Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group, who declined to comment for the report.
Brokers who sell seized properties are selected by the government-services department at Colliers International, which is contracted by the United States Marshals Service to oversee the sale of forfeited properties.
In an interview with The Real Deal last year, Colliers’ Dan Feldman said his team conducts assessments of forfeited properties — looking at location, price, demand and other factors — and then interviews a select pool of brokers.
“We want someone who has made a name for themselves selling that type of product,” he said. “We get a lot of people coming up to us and saying, ‘I’d love to list a $10 million property for you,’ and we’ll say, ‘Great, what have you done?’ And then they’ll send their experience and they’ve sold $200,000 houses.”
Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected]