Chinese has already become famous for its wealthy buyers of overseas homes, and now one of its most famous billionaires has purchased a 28,100 acre (11,371 hectare) estate in New York that formerly belonged to the Rockefeller family.
Jack Ma, who amassed a fortune estimated by Forbes at $23.9 billion while building ecommerce giant Alibaba purchased the outsized property in the Adirondacks for $23 million last month and can now add some very low-tech assets including thousands of trees, several trout streams and a maple syrup workshop to his empire.
Ma is perhaps the highest profile Chinese billionaire to sink some of his new-found wealth into US real estate, but the magnate from Hangzhou represents a larger trend. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, Chinese are now the biggest overseas buyers of US homes, and high-end purchases such as Ma’s helped drive their average home buy to $831,800 – more than double the average spend by Canadians, who were the next biggest overseas buyers.
Ecommerce Kingpin Buys His Own Park
Ma purchased what was once part of William Rockefeller’s Bay Pond nature reserve after it had been on the market since 2012. William was the brother of John D Rockefeller of Standard Oil fame, and himself a co-founder of the petrochemical behemoth.
According to an account in the Wall Street Journal, the plot of hills, forests and lakes includes more than nine miles of the St Regis River, a logging camp from the 1940s, two homes, and a horse stable.
According to LandVest, the agency which brokered the sale on behalf of the Dupont Ross family, the property atracted multiple offers and ultimately sold for over the asking price. The broker believes the sale to be the most expensive property sold in the Adirondacks to date.
The online shopping mogul intends to keep the estate, which is known as Brandon Park, as a nature reserve, but will also use it occasionally as a retreat from the hubbub and hassle of life in mainland China.
Ma already has a history of conservation efforts in China, where he serves as chairman of the Nature Conservancy. The Alibaba chairman also has made environmental preservation one of the primary focuses of his $3 billion trust.
More Chinese Billionaires Buying in North America
While Ma has chosen to buy a piece of New York wilderness, many more of China’s ultra-rich have been attracted to they state’s best-known urban jungle.
Chen Guoqing, one of the founders of China’s Hainan Airlines has now spent nearly $95 million to buy two condo units in the posh One57 tower along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Real estate magnate Zhang Xin, CEO of developer SOHO China also bought a piece of New York City in 2013 when she purchased a townhouse on East 74th Street for $26 million.
And China’s real estate companies seem to be banking on even more of the country’s wealthy buying into the New York market, as they develop buildings which will be marketed, at least in part, to buyers back home on the mainland. In 2014, China Vanke teamed up with local New York developer RFR and Houston’s Hines to build a 61-storey luxury development on Lexington Avenue, while Anbang Insurance, which paid $1.95 billion for the Waldorf Astoria in 2014, is said to be planning to turn some of the historic hotel’s rooms into ultra-high-end condos.