A downtown penthouse that served as a depository for almost $51 million in stolen funds has sold for $18 million despite the fact that there were far higher bids, brokers tell The Post exclusively.
The seller was the US government, who had took control of the penthouse, located at 212 W. 18th St. in Chelsea, in a record billion-dollar asset seizure case.
At one point, the penthouse was owned by an Abu Dhabi businessman, Khadem al Qubaisi — as we revealed exclusively. At the time, in 2014, he used stolen money to set the record for the most expensive property purchased in downtown Manhattan. Now the same penthouse has sold for a shockingly small sum.
The buyer is someone who already owned in the building: Ron Vinder, of Morgan Stanley.
Al Qubaisi is now in an Abu Dhabi jail. The stolen money was linked to a global money laundering scandal involving party boy Jho Low, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB and Goldman Sachs. Low, a fugitive, is hiding in China. He has settled his civil case with the US Justice Department although criminal charges may still be pending.
Other assets bought with the stolen 1MDB money, including dirty diamonds gifted to Low’s friend, model Miranda Kerr, and pricey art gifted to Leonardo DiCaprio, were also seized by the US government.
Walker Tower’s condo board is furious over the transaction, which lowers the property values throughout the trophy condo.
The penthouse was shopped during the height of the pandemic at a time when non-residents were not allowed in the building. “I had a buyer who was willing to pay in the mid 20 [million range] but we weren’t allowed in to see it,” a broker told The Post.
“I don’t blame the buyer — he got the deal of the century,” a member of the condo board told The Post. “But this deal should never have happened. The brokers did not get the best price for their seller. They did not fulfill their fiduciary responsibility as brokers. It is a shameful moment for the industry.”
The condo board tried to fight the deal by saying its members had the right of first refusal.
But the transaction went through anyway, hitting public record Monday.