29 July 2010

Carlos Slim Buys Another Little Piece of New York

Guardian UK

The Duke Semans mansion, located on the corner of 82nd Street and 5th Avenue in New York, will not be a residence for Carlos Slim. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News
Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim pays £28m for an eight-storey Manhattan townhouse he does not plan to live in

Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim, reputed to be the world's richest man, has splashed out $44m (£28m) on an eight-storey mansion on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue in one of New York's most expensive ever house purchases.

According to New York City's property records, a company controlled by Slim struck a deal on 16 July to buy the so-called Duke Semans mansion, which boasts 12 bedrooms, 14 bathrooms and 19,500 square feet (1,800 sq metres) of floor space, a vast amount of room by the crowded standards of densely populated Manhattan.

The building, completed in 1901 for a tobacco magnate, Benjamin Duke, is on the corner of 82nd Street on New York's upper east side and is described by estate agency Brown Harris Stevens as "a residence for the ages – a home whose history-filled past is a wonderful prologue for the next era in its remarkable existence".

The purchase is the latest foray into New York by Slim, a cigar-smoking 70-year-old tycoon whose fortune is estimated by Forbes magazine at $53.5bn, ranking him top in the global wealth league, above Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. He recently paid $140m for a New York office building and has a 7% stake in the New York Times, having pumped $250m into the newspaper publisher at the height of the recession last year.

A spokesman told Bloomberg News that the telecoms magnate was buying the Duke Semans mansion as an investment and did not intend to live in it. The house has marble flooring, a gothic-inspired marquee over its main entrance and views of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The purchase price is the fourth-highest ever for a townhouse in New York. Slim's company bought the property from another billionaire, Tamir Sapir, who made his money in the Russian oil industry. But the deal is not the most expensive in New York; a number of apartments have changed hands for higher prices, including a three-storey flat in the Plaza hotel, overlooking Central Park, which was sold for $56m in 2007.

Slim's real estate investments follow in the footsteps of his father, a Lebanese immigrant who acquired property in downtown Mexico City after the Mexican revolution. The billionaire's properties in Mexico, held through Grupo Carso SAB, include shopping and office complexes, hospitals and educational campuses.

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