The L’Ermitage Beverly Hills luxury hotel will be auctioned off Aug. 19 with minimum bids starting at $104 million in a court-ordered sale arising from a long-running foreign bribery and kleptocracy case involving a Malaysian fugitive financier.
Federal prosecutors seized the lavish 116-room hotel, a short walk from Rodeo Drive, four years ago as part of an investigation into the theft of more than $2.5 billion from a Malaysian development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, known as 1MDB, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
A Los Angeles federal judge entered judgments last year forfeiting more than $700 million in assets acquired by financier Low Taek Jho — commonly known as Jho Low — and his family in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Low is the alleged ringleader of the theft from the fund, which was created in 2009 as a government-owned development company. The U.S. has brought 30 forfeiture lawsuits seeking real estate, investments, art and jewelry valued at $1.7 billion that Low and his accomplices bought.
“L’Ermitage is an extraordinary property, which is why this is such a rare opportunity for investors,” said Matthew Bordwin, a principal at Keen-Summit, a real estate brokerage retained to run the sale process. “Normally, sales of these kinds of luxury projects are handled privately and never made public.”
As of April, prosecutors have recovered or assisted in the recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with the money laundering and bribery scheme, according to the DOJ. It’s the largest recovery to date under the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civil forfeiture ever concluded by the department.