Not content to merely own a chunk of the GM building in New York, SOHO China CEO Zhang Xin bought a Manhattan mansion recently for US$26 million. Other potential buyers looking at the five bedroom, 19th century townhouse included Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a Saudi prince.
Zhang, who with her husband Pan Shiyi runs Beijing-based real estate developer SOHO, has amassed a personal fortune that is estimated by Forbes to be US$3.6 billion, and has lately turned her attention to acquiring high profile assets in America.
During June of this year Zhang, together with other members of her family and the Safra family of Brazil paid about $1 billion for a 40 percent stake in the GM building, a downtown landmark in Manhattan. SOHO China became one of China’s largest property developers through developing high profile projects in Beijing and Shanghai, and selling units in the buildings on a retail basis.
Chinese Billionaires Showing What They Can Buy
Zhang’s purchase of her New York trophy home was announced during the same week that rival developer Dalian Wanda, headed by one of China’s richest men – Wang Jianlin, purchased a Picasso painting at auction in New York for US$28.2 million. Christie’s, the auctioneer for the work, had estimated that the art work would sell for $9 million to $12 million.
By comparison, Zhang seems to have gotten a bargain for her home at 45 East 74th Street, paying $4 million less than the $30 million asking price.
According to a broker involved in the deal, Zhang purchased the home from Italian real estate developer and movie producer Valerio Morabito, who purchased the property in 2009 for $10 million and spent roughly another $10 million renovating it.
Creating a New Chinatown in New York
In addition to Zhang Xin’s new house, Chinese investors have been active buying commercial properties in New York recently, with developer Greenland and investment firm Fosun both making major acquisitions last month.
Fosun, the parent company of Shanghai-based developer Forte, paid $725 million last month to acquire the Chase Manhattan building in Manhattan. During the same month, Greenland bought a 70 percent stake in the $4 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn.
From Factory Floor to Personal Spa
While Zhang Xin makes it a point to retell stories of working on a factory floor during her childhood in China, her New York lifestyle promises to be a bit more posh.
The billionaire’s New York pied-a-terre features a roof terrace with a custom-built hot tub, a wine cellar, English garden, and a fitness floor with a waterfall, swimming pool and sauna.
Maybe Zhang can invite Brad and Leo over to see what they missed out on.