Penthouse 1 at Chelsea's Walker Tower closed in January 2014 for $50.9 million, shattering the record for downtown's most expensive unit. A lot of stories swirled around the penthouse's sale, particularly one that claimed the buyer stood in the nearly 6,000 square foot space for less than five minutes before declaring they'd take it—because, what even is $50 million? The Post has uncovered just who that audacious buyer is. According to documents gleaned by the publication, the buyer is Emirati businessman Khadem al-Qubaisi.
There's more. Not only is al-Qubaisi now trying to unload the apartment—it just underwent a hefty pricechop from $70 million to $55 million—but the record sale is being investigated by the feds in connection with an international money laundering scheme.
Earlier this month, word broke that billionaire building One57 may have been financed with money connected to scandal involving the misappropriation of funds to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. al-Qubaisi is looped into the same scandal.
Long story short, al-Qubaisi once served as the managing director of the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), one of the two parent funds believed to be involved in the money laundering operation. IPIC is one of the biggest backers of a smaller fund, and approximately $2 billion owed from the smaller fund to IPIC was never received by IPIC and instead ended up in the personal bank account of Razak.
A senior official in Malaysia's Public Accounts Committee told the International Business Times that they're "close to the holy grail" regarding their investigation into the funds, and will declassify reports regarding the investigation as soon as it's complete.
To go deeper into the rabbit hole, the Walker Tower penthouse was previously believed to be owned by Hakkasan nightlife group CEO Neil Moffitt. In 2008, Moffitt sold The Hakkasan Group to Tasameem, the other of the two international groups tapped by Extell CEO Gary Barnett to help finance the rise of One57. Tasameem is the personal company of al-Qubaisi. What does it all mean?! Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Not a whole lot beats international scandal involving billions of dollars on the intrigue scale, but for those who are simply curious, downtown's former most expensive unit was the penthouse of 18 Gramercy Park, which sold in 2012 for $42 million to Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. Alexander earned his fortune as a bond trader and attorney.