The New York Post: Wealthy Russians are quietly looking to unload trophy homes across the US
As the war in Ukraine rages, wealthy Russians are quietly looking to unload hundreds of millions of dollars worth of US property — and the sales are raising eyebrows across hotspots in New York, Florida and California, real-estate brokers told the New York Post.
As reported by The Post, billionaire Alexei Kuzmichev — an owner of Alfa-Bank, which is Russia’s largest private bank and which has been slapped by US sanctions — has listed his $41 million Manhattan quadruplex. And off market, Valery Kogan, the billionaire owner of Moscow’s Domodedevo Airport, and his wife Olga are quietly shopping their palatial digs at the Plaza Hotel for $50 million, according to sources.
The Kogans also are quietly shopping properties at 15 Central Park West, 515 Park Ave., and a Greenwich, Conn. estate at 18 Simmons Lane. Altogether, the couple is trying to dispose of property worth around $250 million, sources said.
Those are just a few high-profile instances of big US deals that are lately getting dangled by Russian sellers, according to real estate insiders. The quiet selloff started before the war but picked up after President Biden said in his State of the Union speech that the US was going after oligarchs’ luxury yachts, jets — and apartments, according to brokers.
“We have seen a significant number of ultra-high-end properties hit the market in an attempt to liquidate before accounts get shut down,” Erin Sykes, a broker and international chief economist at Nest Seekers International, told The Post.
In Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. — a one-and-a-half-mile strip of land dubbed “Little Moscow” because of its bustling Russian population and known for its proliferation of Trump-branded residences — 9% of the active residential listings are new since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, according to Sykes.
At the Porsche Design Tower, which comes with sky garage/elevators for cars and has been a popular building for wealthy Russians, there are currently 11 units available for resale — and even more unofficially, according to sources. Developer Gil Dezer declined to comment.
Douglas Elliman broker Harvey Klaiman says there is far more activity than ever in Florida’s Boca Raton and Sunny Isles markets, including a Russian steel manufacturer trying to unload a $6.25 million condo in the latter.
“At the end of the day, there is something very different going on since the war began,” Klaiman said.
In New York City, “Central Park South is experiencing the same thing,” Sykes notes, adding that there are more new and whisper listings at Deutsche Bank Center, formerly known as the Time Warner Center, and the Plaza Hotel as well.
Other Big Apple properties quietly for sale by Russians are on Billionaires Row, Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue — although there are some farther east, on Third and Second Avenues, according to New York-based Dolly Lenz Real Estate.
“I’ve been inundated with calls, and they are all from Russians,” Lenz said. “These aren’t distressed properties. The buyers just want to sell and they don’t want their homes to be publicly listed with their prices and pictures going all over the world that they are selling.
“But they are asking questions, like how much is the property worth, how long would it take to sell, would it be immediate or in six months or a year, and would be all-cash deals. They are anxious and want to get ahead of the problem.”
Jenny Lenz added she is likewise getting calls from “Americans who want to buy distressed Russian assets.” They are looking for Russian properties in New York, Miami, Fisher Island or Beverly Hills.
“I’ve never had my phone blow up like this ever in my life. There is a feeling of potential panic. It isn’t panic yet, but the fear is there, like, where does this stop? Every day there is some senator saying LLCs must be further regulated and undressed,” Dolly Lenz said. “They are afraid of getting their assets seized, even if it is just guilt by association.”
Indeed, Sykes adds that the Ukraine invasion has led the US government to join its allies in moving to freeze the assets of Russian elites close to Putin. That she warns, will likely slow real estate investment from both countries.
“Any transaction involving Russian oligarchs, who have purchased some of the priciest properties in Manhattan and Miami, will become more challenging,” she added.
While a few high-profile listings have been identified, most Russians buy and sell anonymously thanks to lax anti-money laundering laws in real estate. And real estate insiders say there have been no fire sales — yet.
“I had a lowball offer from an American for a trophy Russian property, and they blew it off,” said a broker who did not want to be named.