Alibaba’s vice chairman Joseph Tsai has seen his company’s stock price take a beating this year, but that hasn’t stopped him from buying the third most expensive home in American history.
The billionaire e-commerce entrepreneur and Jack Ma running buddy paid a total of $157.5 million to buy the 60th and 61st floors of 220 Central Park in Manhattan, according to a report this week by CNBC, giving the Taiwan-born entrepreneur a fresh Big Apple trophy alongside his 100 percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA team’s Barclays Center home stadium.
Forbes cites the 57-year-old Tsai as Hong Kong’s 10th richest man, with a personal fortune of $11.1 billion. However, a large slice of that wealth is based on his 11.9 percent stake in Alibaba, which has seen its stock price slide by more than one-third since mainland regulators scuttled plans for the IPO of its Ant Financial spin-off last October.
Double-Decked Central Park Space
Tsai, who is reported to commute between New York, La Jolla in California and Hong Kong on his personal Gulfstream G650ER jet, needed to merge two separate units in one of New York’s most expensive towers to find a suitable home in Manhattan.
During June, a single shell company, which was later linked to Tsai by CNBC, purchased the 5,935 square foot (551 square metre) 60th floor for $82.5 million and the equal-sized 61st floor for $75 million. The deal for the 60th floor also included a 545 square foot studio apartment on the 18th level, which was designated in city property records as a maid’s room.
Tsai’s purchase of the property just east of Columbus Circle at the south end of Central Park will make him a neighbour of hedge fund magnate Ken Griffin, who still holds the record for the most expensive home ever purchased in the US for his $238 million buy of floors 51 through 53 of the same building two years ago.
In 2019, the same year that Tsai paid over $3.3 billion to buy the Barclays Center and the remaining 51 percent of the Nets that he didn’t yet own, he told the New York Post: “I have an affinity for New York. My first job after law school was in New York. I met my wife here. So New York to me is my second home.”
Tsai’s purchase comes as New York City lifts its COVID-19 restrictions and businesses reopen, with the city’s luxury market also flashing some signs of revival.
“The New York luxury market has shown amazing resilience and recently bounced back not long after the city’s reopening,” Dolly Lenz, head of Manhattan luxury residential brokerage Dolly Lenz Real Estate, told Mingtiandi. “There is a general buzz and excitement throughout the market and buyers are finding if they didn’t jump on the bandwagon, they missed out and someone else got their deal.”
During the same month that Tsai picked up his pad along Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row, another investor paid $59.5 million for the 67th floor of 220 Central Park south and a half-floor unit of the 70-storey tower traded for $23 million. All of the transactions at the Vornado Realty Trust project, which was completed in 2019, were resales.
Hong Kong Hangout
Soon after the Ant fiasco last year, Tsai signed an $8.31 million lease for a pair of homes in Hong Kong’s Deep Water Bay, linking the Yale-trained lawyer’s personal housing procurement this year to nearly $166 million.
Tsai’s choice of a home on Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row is in line with his pick of locations in Hong Kong, where he is now neighbours with some of the wealthiest denizens of Asia’s priciest city.
Earlier this year, Tsai was revealed to have taken a six-year lease on two houses at 70 Deep Water Bay Road in Hong Kong for a monthly rent of HK$880,000 ($113,191.29). That contract, which runs from January 2021 to the same month in 2027 is worth a total of HK$64.62 million. Among Tsai’s neighbours in the enclave on Hong Kong island’s south side are Li Ka-shing, Kerry Group boss Robert Kuok and Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Group heir Michael Kadoorie.
The Deep Water Bay deal also keeps Tsai in close proximity to his buddy Jack Ma, who may currently be holed up in a Victoria Peak palace that he purchased for $193 million in 2015, in what was calculated at the time to be the world’s second most expensive home by price per square foot.
Tsai, who joined Alibaba in 1999, will also be familiar with Shi Yufeng and Jin Yuanying, a married couple of co-founders from the e-commerce giant who paid a total of HK$560 million for a pair of Deep Water Bay apartments in 2018.