From a celebratory dinner held at one of the city’s chicest restaurants, to the day the US department of Justice (DOJ) initiated a civil suit on the money it said was siphoned from 1MDB, the New York Times reveals juicy details of Jho Low’s failed bid to acquire the Park lane hotel.
Park Lane is thought to be the best location in Manhattan, if not the world, and the idea was to build a super tower with ultraluxury apartments at the location.
The buyer: Jho Low.
The source of the money? ‘The Low family,” said Jho Low, but the DOJ said it is from 1MDB.
The developer was to be Steven Witkoff, a New York developer, who had won the bidding for the Park Lane.
During the dining, there was Jho Low with Witkoff and it was a night in 2013.
The NYT describes Jho Low as an extravagant, chubby-faced Malaysian financier whose friends included heads of state, Wall Street bankers and celebrities like Paris Hilton and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Low had agreed to finance 85 percent of the $654 million they were paying for the Park Lane.
He also provided the $100 million nonrefundable deposit — twice the sum typically put up — that convinced the sellers to choose the Witkoff group over a rival bidder with a slightly higher offer, said NTY.
But no work ever started on the planned new tower as Jho Low’s fortune evaporated under scrutiny from authorities in the US and abroad who say that his money was stolen from the Malaysian people.
Four years after the dinner — the first and last time Witkoff and Low socialised — Witkoff and his remaining partners are being forced by the Justice Department to put the building up for sale.
A glossy marketing book is being sent to prospective bidders this week.
Under a cooperation agreement between Witkoff and the Justice Department, the hotel is to be sold and the proceeds divided between Mubadala and Witkoff’s group.
The government (of the United States) will take Jho Low’s share.
The sale is being handled by Eastdil Secured, a real estate services company.
The marketing books are expected to arrive this week. The pitch: The Park Lane is “the world’s best development site.”
The sellers hope the bids will exceed $1 billion.