A condo board in Chelsea is fighting the U.S. Department of Justice over its decision to sell a forfeited penthouse at a 64 percent discount.
The 6,000-square-foot penthouse at the Walker Tower sold for $50.9 million in 2014, a downtown record. It went into contract last week for $18.25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The tower’s board, angry about the steep discount, is now pushing back. The board has exercised its first right of refusal, and intends to buy the unit and relist it at a higher price, the Journal reports.
“The contract price can only be described as steeply distressed and unrealistic and one which could adversely affect the market value of other homes at Walker Tower,” said attorney David Berkey, who represents the condo board. “The board is acting in the best interests of all Walker Tower owners by exercising its right of first refusal.”
In response, The Department of Justice reportedly pointed to an earlier pleading in the case that said the board had agreed to give the government discretion to accept an offer.
“We’re all scratching our heads saying, ‘How did this happen?’” said Vickey Barron, a resident and broker at Compass who is marketing sales at the building. “What we’re talking about is almost 70 percent discount. It’s almost like a sample sale. Walker Tower is not a sample sale.”
The penthouse was purchased in 2014 by an LLC linked to Abu Dhabi businessman Khadem Al Qubaisi. In taking control of the property, the government alleged the unit was bought with money stolen from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.
Last month, a luxury condo that once belonged to Jho Low, a Malaysian financier central to the 1MBD scandal, sold for $7.6 million. Low had paid $13.8 million for the home in 2014. [WSJ] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan