Homes for tens of millions of dollars: luxury real estate of the Nazarbayev family in the USA
Over the past two decades, members of the Nazarbayev family have purchased luxury homes for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in Europe and the United States, becoming the owners of luxury real estate on the luxurious lakesides and among the skyscrapers of Manhattan, in the London suburbs and the Costa Brava resort in Spain, writes Radio Azattyk.
A new investigation by RFE / RL has collected the most comprehensive information to date about the properties of a vast network of real estate associated with Nazarbayev's relatives, including his two daughters, grandchildren and brother. These data are not exhaustive information about foreign property belonging to the relatives of the former president of Kazakhstan, who since 2010 officially uses the title of "leader of the nation". This status guarantees Nazarbayev and his family members immunity from any persecution. Nazarbayev is currently the head of the influential Security Council and the Nur Otan party of power.
In 2019, Kazakhstan officially renamed the capital in honor of Nazarbayev, naming the city Nur-Sultan.
But this investigation is an unprecedented opportunity to understand the scale of investments by Nazarbayev's relatives in high-value real estate in the most luxurious corners of the world. All these acquisitions were made possible thanks to the huge capital of family members, which they have formed, owning assets in the energy, banking and other sectors of the economy of the oil-producing country and holding government positions.
Azattyk has established properties worth at least $ 785 million in six countries, which were acquired by members of the Nazarbayev family and relatives of their spouses over a 20-year period. Those figures include several properties that have since been sold, including millions of dollars worth of apartments in the US that were acquired by Nazarbayev's brother Bolat. They do not include the cost of Kulibayev's large-scale estate in Spain: it was not possible to determine the amount at which the purchase cost.
Nazarbayev's patronage is widely viewed as a factor critical to the accumulation of wealth by his relatives, who have repeatedly claimed to be running a successful business that has nothing to do with family and political ties.
The Nazarbayevs invested in expensive overseas real estate amid a general rise in the country's wealth after the collapse of the USSR. This growth also affected the rise in the standard of living of many average Kazakhstanis, but at the same time it contributed to the fact that people associated with the political elite turned into oligarchs and became heroes of newspaper gossip.
Who will replace Nazarbayev when he leaves Kazakhstani politics forever - the former president at an advanced age, he is 80 - and what will happen to the state of his loved ones remains unknown.
“The system is so fragile. The political economy that Nazarbayev has built is tied to one person, ”Keith Mallinson, a London-based consultant and researcher of Central Asian politics, told Azattyk.
Nazarbayev's relatives and closest associates "were betting on the future, not knowing what would happen, and therefore took assets out of the country," Mallinson said.
Yevgeny Zhovtis, head of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, the oldest and largest human rights organization in Kazakhstan, notes that the country “is very difficult to separate [Nazarbayev’s] government and family” and “it’s hard to say what will happen in Kazakhstan” after death ex-president.
“When you have such political systems, you don't have to rely on the law to protect you,” Zhovtis says.
Here are some of the houses and apartments that the Nazarbayev family own in the United States.
10225 Collins Ave., apt. 1801 Bal Harbor, Florida
- Purchase price: $ 3,4 million
- Owners: Bolat Nazarbayev, Daniyar Kesikbayev
- Area: 355 square meters
- Description: Luxurious three-bedroom, five-bathroom apartment in a 24-story oceanfront building featuring a spa, fitness center and pool
A waterfront apartment with a panoramic balcony and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean was purchased in 2006 for $ 3,4 million. According to the register of Florida real estate owners, the apartment was acquired by Daniyar Kesikbayev, the stepson of Bolat Nazarbayev, brother of the then president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
This property, along with other properties, has become the focus of a bitter litigation in the United States between Bolat Nazarbayev and Maira Kurmangaliyeva, Kesikbayev's mother. The dispute also involved other million-dollar real estate in Manhattan, as well as jewelry worth "more than $ 50 million", which, according to Bolat Nazarbayev's lawyer, were bought with his client's money.
Kesikbayev eventually transferred ownership of an apartment in Florida to Bolat Nazarbayev in October 2014, according to Florida registry entries.
In March 2016, Bolat signed a $ 10 nominal sale and purchase agreement with a now dormant Florida-based company. Two months later, she sold the property to another Florida firm, which is now also inactive. The indicated transaction price is $ 3,5 million. The original asking price was $ 4,35 million.
Real estate website Real Deal reported shortly after the sale that the apartment had been on sale since the fall. It appeared on the market about a year after the Kesikbayevs transferred ownership to Bolat Nazarbayev.
This isn't the first time Florida apartments have found themselves at the center of a property dispute in the Miami area. In 2012, Bolat Nazarbayev filed a lawsuit against the developer, accusing him of violating the terms of the contract - because of the balcony, which, according to the plaintiff, was not private enough.
The complaint stated that Bolat had posted a bail of $ 1,2 million for apartments with "private", as promised by the developer, balconies. In fact, the balcony of the apartment he was about to purchase turned out to be "not at all private," the complaint said.
“The privacy of the balcony is especially important for the buyer in this case. Bolat Nazarbayev is the brother of the President of Kazakhstan. A private balcony is necessary for security reasons, ”Courthouse News Service, who writes about news from the courts, cites the complaint.
Bolat demanded that the developer return his mortgage. Judging by the court records, the parties settled the dispute in confidence.
2 Margo Way, Alpine, New Jersey
- Purchase price: $ 20 million
- Owners: Daniyar Kesikbaev, Mayra Kurmangaliyeva
- Area: 3 160 square meters
- Description: Eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, garage for eight cars, indoor basketball court, saltwater pool, spa, gourmet kitchen and dining complex, billiard room, wine cellar
At the time of the last sale, the Margot Way mansion, located on a quiet side street in one of the most expensive locations in the US, was reportedly one of the most expensive homes in state history.
The house was acquired by an anonymous company, a technique commonly used by buyers of real estate in the United States seeking to avoid unnecessary attention. At first, the press assumed that some oligarch from Russia became the owner of the house. But documents filed with the US federal court indicate that Bolat Nazarbayev, the brother of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was behind the acquisition.
The house was purchased at the end of 2012, just months after Bolat found himself embroiled in a bitter legal battle with his ex-wife Maira Kurmangaliyeva and her son Daniyar Kesikbaev over multiple properties in Manhattan.
In March 2014, Bolat Nazarbayev's attorney presented a proposal to the New York State Supreme Court to settle the dispute, which stated that the client would waive claims against Kurmangaliyeva over the property “located at No. 2, Margot Way, Alpine, New- Jersey". In court documents within the framework of the claim, this address is indicated as the place of residence of Kesikbaev and Kurmangaliyeva. Court documents were also delivered to this address.
The New Jersey property owner base shows that the $ 20 million home bought in 2012 by a New Jersey-registered anonymous company has not changed ownership since.
On the subject: Why Nazarbayev left and what will happen next with Kazakhstan
It is not known where exactly the money was taken to buy a house. But in February 2014, Bolat Nazarbayev’s lawyer wrote in an email to Kurmangaliyeva’s lawyer in the United States: “we believe” that real estate in New Jersey “was bought with Mr. Nazarbayev’s money,” and estimated its value at more than $ 20 million. In the same letter, attorney John Snyder indicated that Bolat Nazarbayev had bought more than $ 50 million worth of jewelry, which was kept by Kurmangaliyeva.
"As part of the settlement agreement, Mr. Nazarbayev agreed to withdraw claims against your clients related to jewelry worth more than $ 50 million, which Mrs. Kurmangaliyeva appropriated for herself," Snyder wrote.
Kurmangalieva is listed as an executive director or owner of several Kazakh enterprises, including one company engaged in the extraction of precious metals.
In 2015, Daniyar Kesikbayev married the daughter of the then Prime Minister of Malaysia.
In a separate lawsuit filed in a US federal court, a seller of expensive Hermes bags in New York indicated that Kurmangaliyeva refused to pay a bill of more than $ 400. Kurmangaliyeva, judging by the materials, threatened by phone: “Do you know who my son is? He is the son-in-law of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Do you know what we can do with you and your family? I'll arrange for you! "
Ultimately, Kurmangaliyeva agreed to pay for the purchased bags.
Kurmangaliyeva and Bolat Nazarbayev have a common child, Khanbolat Nazarbayev, who was born in 2002.
Bolat Nazarbayev's New York lawyer who participated in the trial told RFE / RL that he no longer represents Nazarbayev and does not know how to contact him. E-mails sent to Nazarbayev-related investment companies in Almaty and the charitable organization he leads were not answered at the time of publication.
The message sent to Kurmangaliyeva's number in the WhatsApp messenger was read, but there was no response. Kesikbayev did not respond to a Facebook post requesting comment.
# 930 & 702, 55 Wall St., New York
- Purchase price: 2,6 million US dollars; US $ 1,7 million (respectively)
- Owners: Bolat Nazarbayev, Daniyar Kesikbayev
- Area: 204 square meters; 109 square meters (respectively)
- Description: Apartment No. 930: two bedrooms, one bathroom; apartment number 702: four rooms, one bedroom, bathroom, two bathrooms
The apartment, located in a historic building in the famous Wall Street area of Manhattan, also featured in a lawsuit between Bolat Nazarbayev and his ex-wife Maira Kurmangaliyeva. In a lawsuit filed in 2012, Bolat Nazarbayev argued that Maira's son Daniyar Kesikbayev bought the apartment six years ago with his stepfather's money - as an investment of his funds. But, according to the lawsuit, Daniyar recorded the property on himself and his mother.
Ultimately, according to the register of owners in New York, Kesikbayev sold apartment No. 2006, purchased in 702, in 2011 for $ 940. In 2016 Bolat sold apartment No. 930, bought in 2007, at an unknown price.
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Plaza Hotel, apt. 1801, 768 Fifth Avenue, New York
- Purchase price: $ 20,2 million
- Owners: Bolat Nazarbayev
- Area: 427 square meters
- Description: A four-bedroom apartment on the 18th floor of the Plaza Hotel; main bedroom windows with six dressing rooms overlook Central Park
In 2008, Bolat Nazarbayev, the brother of the former President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, and his wife Maira Kurmangaliyeva at the time, purchased apartments in a building overlooking the famous Central Park, which is called the "green lungs" of Manhattan. Three years later, the couple divorced the marriage, and the real estate became the subject of a fierce public legal battle, which broke out in the courts of New York and on the pages of the tabloids: Bolat accused Myra and his stepson Daniyar Kesikbayev of fraud and illegal takeover of apartments.
Bolat is listed as a shareholder or head of a number of Kazakh companies operating in various sectors, including agriculture, commercial consulting, real estate management and wholesale. The former spouses eventually settled the dispute, and in 2014 Bolat regained sole ownership of the apartment. Two years later, he sold the property for $ 17,9 million, below the purchase price.
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