Red scare: Wealthy Russians fear asset seizures over war

Report: Non-oligarchs could be selling high-end properties on Billionaires' Row, Fisher Island

Billionaires' Row in NYC (Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay)
Billionaires' Row in NYC (Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay)

They’re rushin’ to sell their real estate.

Wealthy Russians who own property in the United States are looking to sell out, a high-profile luxury real estate broker told Fortune magazine this week.

Dolly Lenz, one of the highest-producing residential brokers in New York, told the magazine she has been inundated with requests from Russian clients looking to offload their properties lest they get caught in the international financial crossfire of the war with Ukraine.

And it’s not just oligarchs that are worried they are in the crosshairs. Wealthy non-oligarch Russians are also concerned about having their assets seized.

“The heat is up,” she told the publication. “They’re scared that they’re going to have their real estate seized or potentially seized. Or linked to someone who is seized. They’re scared to death of [guilt] by association.”

Since the end of the Cold War, Russians without ties to Vladimir Putin have poured money into high-end properties in places like Billionaire’s Row in New York City and Miami’s Fisher Island, and with things on the world stage being what they are, Lenz predicts those property could soon flood the market.

“There are already more inquiries, and that’s how it starts,” she said.

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Lenz added that upcoming real estate projects by Russian-born developers along with big-ticket home purchases may also be put on hold.

“We know of several deals where [Russian] buyers had put down money on new development — with significant deposits,” she told the publication. “And are deciding to not go through with the deal.”

She claimed some buyers were willing to walk away from deposits of up to $15 million in order to get out of deals.

But some experts say investing in American soil is the right move to make right now.

Engel & Völkers Americas’ Stuart Siegel said instability in Russia could encourage some Russians to hang on to their American holdings — or even buy more.

“In times of global turmoil, American real estate has always been viewed as a safe harbor,” he told the publication.

[Fortune] — Vince DiMiceli