As Nigeria deals with gruesome violence between government troops and a strict Islamic sect, one of its prominent oilmen has apparently closed on three serious pieces of brand-name New York real estate.
Last month, neighboring apartments were bought under a trio of limited liability corporation names at the new Centurion condo on West 56th Street, the first New York residential project for lordly architect I. M. Pei since his massively underappreciated Silver Towers. In city records, the buyer for all three is listed as Tunde Folawiyo, whose father, Wahab, was called an icon of Nigerian industry when he died last year. The deals add up to $10.1 million, which bought a total of five bedrooms and 3,530 square feet.
But the paper trail is murky. For all three apartments, Mr. Folawiyo’s name is crossed out with a thin line and replaced with the handwritten name of a New York attorney, who did not respond to messages by deadline. The broker who represented the corporation, Corcoran’s Linda Schlang, did not respond, either.
Her Web site shows rental listings for apartments that seem to be these three—two cost $11,000 per month, one $15,000.
Mr. Folawiyo has been described as a London School of Economics graduate who plays a major petroleum industry role in Nigeria—one of Africa’s largest oil producers but a corruption-addled country continually short of gasoline. Centurion sales director Michele Conte wouldn’t disclose specifics about the apartment deals, though she said her impression had been that the three condos were bought by a group.
Bigger apartment sales have closed in the building recently: According to records, Long Island pharmaceuticals executive Ronald Steinlauf paid $15,275,000 for several units four floors up. And yet Ms. Conte offered that the Centurion is only about half-sold, though she said no buyers who’ve signed contracts have tried to wiggle away: “Nobody. Not one person. And the only concession I made was a free storage room or something. One free storage room, that’s all. And we did it for a specific reason: To be nice.”