Fire breaks out in Chinese exile’s penthouse hours after arrest
Guo Wengui outed as 50K sf NJ mansion buyer
Property among assets prosecutors highlighted in exiled Chinese tycoon’s fraud charges
An exiled Chinese tycoon was arrested and charged earlier this week by federal prosecutors who allege he used investments to buy a yacht, expensive mattresses, a Ferrari and a mansion.
The mansion in question is a historic 50,000-square-foot home in Mahwah, New Jersey, which has not been previously reported as belonging to Guo Wengui. Bloomberg reported the connection days after Guo was charged with orchestrating a conspiracy to defraud his online followers out of $1 billion.
The home made its own headlines when it hit the market in 2017, asking $48 million, before selling to Las Vegas-based Taurus Fund LLC for $26 million in December 2021.
The Gilded Age home was built in 1907, sits on 12.5 acres and includes 29 bathrooms, 21 bedrooms and a 45-foot-tall organ.
The home’s previous owner, businessman Ilija Pavlovic, paid developer Darlington Associates $8.8 million for the home in 2008 before embarking on a yearslong renovation. Pavlovic told the Wall Street Journal at the time of the listing he was interested in the “challenge” of updating the home.
Assets tied to Guo, a financier and associate of political strategist Steve Bannon, came under harsher scrutiny this week in the wake of his arrest.
The unsealed federal indictment claimed Guo and a co-defendant used Guo’s strong online presence to solicit investments for entities and programs, for which he promised “outsized financial returns and other benefits.”
He also sparked local attention when — hours after he was arrested in his unit at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel — a two-alarm fire broke out on the same floor of his penthouse at 781 Fifth Avenue.
Wengui bought the co-op for $67.5 million in 2015. The 15-room unit hit the market in Feb. 2022 asking $45 million, but that price has since been reduced to $32.5 million.
Genever Holdings, the LLC that owns the Sherry-Netherland penthouse, has tried unloading the apartment several times. The building’s co-op board, which accused Guo of being behind the shell company, even sued Genever for unpaid maintenance charges amounting to nearly $1 million.
— Ellen Cranley
Chinese fugitive willing to take $12M loss at Sherry-Netherland
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