July 21, 2021: According to people familiar with the deal, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai is the mystery buyer of a $157 million apartment deal in the most prestigious condo tower of Manhattan.
According to people close to the transaction, Tsai owns the Brooklyn Nets NBA team and purchased two full-floor condo apartments at 220 Central Park South in two transactions totaled $157.5 million. The purchase marks the third most expensive home ever sold in the United States. The costliest home ever sold in America is in the same building, Ken Griffin’s purchase of four floors for just $238 million in the year 2019.
Tsai’s purchase spans two floors and has sweeping views of Central Park and midtown Manhattan. The deal is including a studio apartment on the 18th floor that is likely for staff.
Thanks in part to his purchase, and blue-chip buyers such as Sting and Daniel Och, 220 Central Park South is keeping to soar in value even though the pandemic, and it’s above 90% sold out. The units purchased by Tsai both sold for more than their original sale price. The 61st floor sold for $51.4 million in the previous year, while the 60th floor sold for $50.9 million.
The purchase is made at a sensitive time for Tsai and Alibaba. Alibaba shares have come down by a third since October, and Chinese authorities are cracking down on the big tech companies of the country to curb their power and data reach. The Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has also retreated from public life after he criticized Chinese regulators and Beijing scuttled the initial public offering of his fintech giant Ant.
Tsai remains executive vice-chairman and the second-largest shareholder of Alibaba. Tsai is worth about $10 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index.
Tsai was born in Taiwan, did his schooling in New Jersey, and lived and worked in New York in the mid-1990s as a lawyer and private equity executive. He successfully made his fortune in China at Alibaba, and later, he splits his time amid San Diego and Hong Kong. He is now holding both Canadian and Hong Kong passports.
Tsai bought a minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets in the year 2017 and purchased the remainder of the team in 2019 along with operating rights to Barclay’s Center for a total of over $3 billion. Tsai sits on the board of NBA China and owns the WNBA’s New York Liberty.