The enormous 18th-floor penthouse at the Sherry-Netherland Hotel has hit yet another snag in its quest to find a buyer who will actually want to call it home. This time, though, the problem isn’t the too-high price; it’s the owner’s own involvement in a corruption scandal.
According to Forbes (h/t The Real Deal), a Hong Kong-based hedge fund, Pacific Alliance Asia Opportunity Fund, has asked a New York judge to seize and block a potential sale of the apartment, which is currently on the market for a staggering $78 million.
Per Forbes, the current owner, Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, allegedly owes that hedge fund $88 million “for defaulted debts that have been accruing unpaid interest for years and are linked to Pangu Plaza, a dragon-shaped building Guo developed near Beijing’s Olympic stadium.” By seizing the apartment, it could potentially recoup some of its lost funds—but if Guo successfully sells the place, the fund argues, he could “ensure that any proceeds from such sale or transfer are moved immediately outside the United States.” The move comes after the hedge fund sued Guo in April in an attempt to recoup those funds.
Guo bought the apartment back in 2015 for $67.5 million, after it had been on the market for three years with the mind-boggling price tag of $95 million. But he didn’t hold on to the apartment for long: Just seven months later, he dropped it back onto the market for $86 million, where it has sat—and gotten price chopped—ever since.
Guo, who Forbes notes “has been the subject of immense controversy and intrigue in China,” has since filed a motion to dismiss PAAOF’s lawsuit, which is just one of many being levied against him currently. (He claims that because he spends more time in London these days, these lawsuits shouldn’t be piling up in New York. Okay!)