Israel and Qatar may — or may not — have diplomatic relations, but some Israelis and Qataris are working together to their mutual benefit. Case in point: Oren and Tal Alexander, young realtors to the über-rich (and sometimes famous), are representing the Qatari government in a record-breaking New York real estate transaction.
The New York Post reported on January 30 that Qatar is in contract to buy an Upper East Side property for $100 million, the highest price ever paid for a commercial-use townhouse in Manhattan. (The highest price forked over for a residential townhouse is $53 million.) The Alexanders’ client plans on converting the townhouse, currently used as an art gallery, into a consulate. The deal is set to close in April.
The sellers of the building at 19 East 64th Street are the Wildenstein family, who own one of the most successful art dealerships of the last century. The business was founded in Paris by Nathan Wildenstein in 1870. The Wildenstein name is known beyond art dealing and collecting circles, mainly due to the tabloid notoriety of Jocelyn Wildenstein (divorced from Alec Wildenstein since 1999), who underwent countless plastic surgeries intended to make her appear more and more catlike.
Oren and Tal Alexander head up an 11-agent team at Douglas Elliman Real Estate. The brothers, whose parents are Israeli, got into real estate working in Miami with their father, Shlomi, a residential developer.
“When I’m in Miami on a Friday night, we have Shabbat dinners that basically turn into board meetings. I act as the consultant on design and architectural plans and finishes and he’s the developer and the builder,” Oren Alexander told the New York Post last year.
Known for working with high-end clients and dealing in trophy properties, the Alexanders, who are still in their 20s, count a full-floor apartment in the Sherry Netherland — going for $95 million — among their current listings.
Oren Alexander told the Post that they searched off-market for their client when they couldn’t find anything appropriate on the market. “Finally we called Carrie Chiang of Corcoran. Carrie said, ‘OK, I think I have a place for you,’ ” he said.
The main issue for the state of Qatar was that it wanted a property it could quickly put to use as a consulate. “Besides the location and width, it’s a turnkey property, which is what I think struck the state of Qatar,” Oren Alexander told The Real Deal, a real estate publication. “Foreigners, especially, don’t want to come to the States and go through the headache of hiring contractors and building something.”
As jaw dropping as this $100-million deal is, it is not the only piece of pricey property bought by the Qatari royals in recent years. Last year, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, Qatar’s former prime minister, purchased a New York townhouse for $35 million. In 2012, he bought $250 million worth of apartments in the One57 90-story hotel and condominium tower currently under construction just south of Central Park.
As Oren Alexander sees it, only good will come from a couple of young-gun Israeli brokers having done this record-setting deal for their Qatari clients. “With this sale, we’re opening up the door for more sales at this price point,” he said.