(Adds building's history)
By Ilaina Jonas
NEW YORK, July 9 The majority ownership of New
York City's iconic Chrysler Building has been sold to the Abu
Dhabi Investment Council, marking the second time in less than
two months that a Middle Eastern fund took a major stake in a
high-profile Manhattan office building.
Prudential Financial sold its 75 percent stake in the New
York City building to the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund on Tuesday,
a source familiar with the transaction said.
Tishman Speyer, which manages and controls the building,
held the other 25 percent stake. A Tishman Speyer Properties
spokesperson would not comment on whether they, too, had sold
part or all of their interest in the building, located on 42nd
Street and Lexington Avenue.
The fund paid about $800 million for Prudential's stake,
another person familiar with the deal said. Prudential
spokeswoman Theresa Miller declined to comment.
The sale of the building was motivated by timing
restrictions in an investment fund Prudential has owned since
Prudential has been selling the fund's other high profile
Manhattan office properties, including 666 Fifth Avenue and the
Lipstick Building at 885 Third Ave., in the last year to close
out the fund.
Manhattan's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science
technically owns the land and the building and leases it to
Tishman Speyer under a 150-year lease that started in 1998,
according to a spokeswoman for Cooper Union -- the only
private, full scholarship U.S. college for architecture, art
and engineering. Rent payments help fund the scholarships.
The Chrysler stake follows on the heels of another purchase
by a United Arab Emirate buyer. Last month, Dubai-based Meraas
Capital LLC, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Boston
Properties Inc (BXP.N) bought the General Motors building.
The Chrysler Building, an American Art Deco skyscraper, was
designed by William Van Alen who was in a race in the 1920s and
1930s to build tallest building in the world, said Neal
Bascomb, author of the book "Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky
and Making of a City." The book chronicles the competition
between Van Alen and his chief adversary, H. Craig Severance.
The two had been partners in an architectural firm, a
pairing that ended with a bitter break-up that included
lawsuits and years of grudges.
"Van Alen was looking for design and making a piece of art,
essentially," Bascomb said. "Severance was looking to make
Former senator William Reynolds hired Van Alen who stayed
on the project after it was bought by Walter Chrysler, chairman
and founder of car maker Chrysler Corp.
Van Alen's "final" design called for the building to be 925
feet high. But when he learned that Severance's Bank of
Manhattan Tower, at 40 Wall St., would be 927 feet tall, Van
Alen pushed the spire up and the building topped out at 1,046
But the Chrysler Building's title as the world's highest
building was short lived. Just a few months later in 1931, The
Empire State Building opened at 1,250 feet tall.
The Chrysler Building has changed hands several times since
the Chrysler family sold it in 1953.
(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas; editing by Patrick Fitzgibbons and