KUALA LUMPUR (July 7): Fugitive businessman Jho Low’s Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is being auctioned off north of US$100 million, with proceeds to be split between the governments of Malaysia and the United States.
The New York Times (NYT) in a report July 3 described the 116-room boutique hotel as having a rooftop pool, jet-setting clientele.
The report said Low acquired the Viceroy L’Ermitage for about US$40 million in 2010, and later spent the same amount on renovations.
NYT said prosecutors moved to seize the hotel, about a mile from Rodeo Drive, in 2016 as part of a long-running investigation into one of the biggest foreign bribery and kleptocracy cases in history: the looting of more than US$2.5 billion from Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
The report added that the hotel is the last of Low’s marquee properties to be sold by federal authorities.
It said Viceroy, which operates the hotel, charges about US$600 a night on average for rooms it markets as a “home-away-from-home for Hollywood elite, international dignitaries and jet-setting luxury travelers.”
Federal authorities in Los Angeles and Washington are hoping to sell it for well north of US$100 million in an auction this summer, according to people briefed on the matter, said NYT.
The newspaper cited Michael M. Eidelman, a Chicago bankruptcy lawyer hired as the special master for the auction as saying luxury hotels in Beverly Hills do not often come up for sale.
“We have received inquiries from a number of different groups, and groups from a number of different countries,’ it quoted him as saying.
However, NYT also said how aggressive the bidding will be remains an open question, with the future of the tourism industry very much in doubt.
It said a resurgence of coronavirus infections is putting off — or reversing — reopening plans throughout the country, just as hotels were getting a chance to claw out of the hole opened up by lockdown orders.
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