At 432 Park, a $30M condo is in default and its owner has vanished

Distressed asset buyer now seeks to foreclose on skyscraper unit, whose loan guarantor appears to be in Chinese custody

New York /
Jul.July 26, 2021 01:00 PM
At 432 Park, a $30M condo is in default and its owner has vanished

432 Park Avenue and from left: Whitney Duan, who guaranteed loan on condo unit (Google Maps, and Communist Youth League)

The $30 million condo unit high atop East 57th Street sits empty, stripped of its furniture and possibly abandoned. The mortgage on the 72nd floor residence at 432 Park Avenue is in default, its guarantor appears to be in custody in China and the unit owner’s identity is uncertain.

Now the firm that owns the debt wants to seize the 4,000-square-foot property on Billionaires’ Row, where high-end real estate purchases are often shrouded behind layers of LLCs.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Maverick Real Estate Partners is seeking to foreclose on the three-bedroom unit, hoping to sell it “on an expedited basis on the grounds that the property is vacant and/or abandoned.”

Maverick alleges the owner of unit 72A — listed as an offshore LLC — has failed to make mortgage payments since March, throwing the loan into default.

In May, Maverick bought the $13.75 million mortgage from China Citic Bank, property records show. Just over $1 million of the principal loan has been repaid, according to the lawsuit. But exactly who borrowed the money remains something of a mystery — as has been the case with other high-end condo purchases on Billionaires’ Row and around Manhattan.

The entity that controls unit 72A is registered to an Upper East Side unit at 200 East 65th Street, according to court filings. That unit is in turn controlled by Eagle Harvest LLC, city property tax records reveal. The identity of individuals behind that company could not immediately be learned.

An attorney for Maverick declined to comment on the case.

The court filing also reveals that Weihong Duan — among the wealthiest women in China — guaranteed the $13.75 million loan. But Duan appears to be in the custody of the Chinese government in a case stemming from land deals involving a former prime minister, according to Maverick’s lawyers.

Duan also lent $5.8 million to the LLC that controls unit 72A, Maverick court documents contend. The financing was approved in 2017 by the original lender, China Citic, as a subordinate loan.

Unravelling the true borrower of that loan has also proved difficult because Duan signed financial agreements on behalf of the LLC to which she provided the money. Duan — also known as Whitney Duan — could not be reached at her last recorded home, a condo residence at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beijing.

The condo unit at 432 Park is among many Manhattan ultra-luxury residences with ties to foreign capital — some of it allegedly ill-gotten. At nearby One57 condo tower, lenders in 2017 foreclosed on a unit held by a Nigerian oil magnate who was separately under investigation for money laundering.

Foreclosure on an ultra-luxury Manhattan residence would be rare. Should Maverick try to offload the unit and accept an amount well below market value, it could prompt pushback from the condo board. The Manhattan luxury market has picked up in recent months, however, and asking prices at 432 Park are returning to supertall status. The top-floor penthouse recently listed for $170 million, more than twice its selling price five years ago.

The ambitious listing counts as good news at 432 Park these days. In February, a report in the Times detailed construction flaws at the skyscraper.

Maverick’s lawsuit does not rule out the possibility that other debt may exist on the unit. It includes the 432 Park condo board as a co-defendant — meant to stop the building from claiming ownership to settle unpaid common charges.

The 432 Park condo board could not be immediately reached.





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