Since it was built, 220 Central Park South has unquestionable reigned as one of New York City’s most successful and profitable residential projects. Designed by master architect Robert A.M. Stern, clad in Alabama limestone and punctuated by Juliet balconies, set-back terraces and ornamental metalwork, the 950-foot-tall and 118-unit tower combines a stately prewar-style entrance façade with a laundry list of 21st-century creature comforts, not to mention epic views over Central Park. The building has been such a success, according to CityRealty, that it singlehandedly “kept the super high end market aloft” during a downturn in New York real estate during the pandemic. Indeed, its condos comprised the top 22 sales in the city; and, overall, its 46 sales during that 12-month period add up to a staggering $1.52 billion.
While the developers have kept details of interior designs for 220 Central Park South purposefully scarce — it lends to the development’s mystique and ultra-exclusivity — some of the fab building’s many five-star amenities include an attended lobby and valet parking, an 82-foot saltwater swimming pool and a wine cellar, even though most apartments likely have wine cellars of their own. There are also private dining rooms, a library, an athletic club with a juice bar, a basketball court, a golf simulator and a children’s play area. Not swanky enough? In 2019, superchef Jean-Georges Vongerichten was chosen to operate a residents-only, 54-seat restaurant on the second floor.
More than two years ago, it was property collecting hedge funder Ken Griffin who made headlines with the $238 million purchase of a four-floor penthouse at 220 Central Park South, which remains the highest sale price for a home in the history of the United States. Lately, though, another titanic transaction at 220 Central Park West has been making news: the sale of two units on the 60th and 61st floor that went for a combined $157.5 million to the same buyer, Joe Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chairman of China-based tech giant Alibaba. When combined, the apartment will span about 11,000 square feet.
Alibaba is China’s largest tech company, and its affiliate company, The Ant Group, is the largest Fintech company on the planet. Ant Group’s Alipay, which has all but replaced credit cards in China, is similar to Google Pay or PayPal, while Alibaba is China’s version of eBay and Amazon, combined. The company sells about $1 trillion of goods per year, more than twice as much as Amazon, and its 2014 IPO set a record as the world’s biggest public stock offering, raising $25 billion.
Besides minting money as a tech tycoon, Tsai is keen on sports team ownership. In September 2019, he became the owner of the Brooklyn Nets as well as the holder of the operating license for Barclays Center. He also owns the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the San Diego Seals, a box lacrosse team, and he heads the consortium that will bring a box lacrosse franchise to Las Vegas.
With a net worth of about $10.3 billion in 2021, Tsai’s main residence, in La Jolla, Calif., is a 2.37-acre estate he picked up in 2010 for $10 million. He and wife Clara Wu Tsai subsequently tore down the existing house and built a more-than-9,700-square-foot residence. Tsai also rents an apartment in Hong Kong, reportedly for approximately $113,000 a month.