Sultan of Brunei makes play for New York's Plaza Hotel, report says
The Sultan of Brunei is reportedly the favorite among bidders to purchase New York's landmark Plaza Hotel.
As part of an estimated $2.2 billion deal, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who hailed his country's controversial Islamic Shariah criminal law as a "great achievement," would also purchase New York's Dream Hotel and London's Grosvenor House Hotel, the Times of London reported.
The properties are being sold by Subrata Roy, an Indian tycoon currently jailed in New Delhi on contempt of court charges. The profits will reportedly be used to pay Roy's $1.6 billion bail bond.
Under the deal, the sultan would not have a say in the day-to-day operation of the hotels, but would be the controlling owner in partnership with two other investors, Sean Hennesseey, CEO of Lodging Investment Advisors told The New York Post.
The sultan, who also owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, came under fire for endorsing his country's strict Shariah criminal law which calls for punishing adultery, abortions and same-sex relationships with flogging and stoning.
"The decision to implement the (Shariah penal code) is not for fun but is to obey Allah's command as written in the Koran," the sultan said in May.
In response, Hollywood A-listers and organizations called for the boycott of the California hotel, with many refusing to do business with the sultan or Brunei government.
The Motion Picture & Television Fund announced it wouldn't hold its annual Night Before the Oscar party at the hotel, as Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John and other celebrities refuse to stay at the hotel.
The possibility of the sultan also owning the Plaza was met with outrage by some visitors and organizations.
"We cannot support doing business with someone who holds such beliefs that criminalize the actions of individuals based on their sexual orientation," Elsie McCabe Thompson, president of the New York City Mission Society which holds annual galas at the Plaza told The Post.
"We would not stay here for sure," Mark Timmis, a Plaza guest from Canada told The Post.
Brunei, a conservative country where alcohol is banned and Muslim courts already govern family affairs, began phasing in its version of Shariah that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery. Most of the punishments can be applied to non-Muslims, who account for about one-third of the 440,000 people in the oil-rich country.
While no timeline has been set for the deal, Roy is reportedly racing to post bail by a deadline set by the court.
Roy's Sahara group purchased the Plaza for about $570 million in 2012, Reuters reported.
With views overlooking Central Park, the hotel's 4,490 square-foot Royal Suit has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a dining room for 12, a kitchen, a gym, a grand piano and a library for $30,000 per night.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.