The Lotte New York Palace Hotel, a grand edifice once known as the Helmsley Palace Hotel and later the New York Palace Hotel, incorporates the Gilded Age’s famed Villard Houses into a 55-story luxury hotel. Today, the hotel combines timeless extravagance with 21st-century luxury in Midtown East.
Railroad mogul Henry Villard originally built the six-home mansion complex, the Villard Houses, to compete with the extravagant Vanderbilt family home that some consider the face of Millionaire’s Row. Villard, though, lost his palace to bankruptcy. Since then, the houses have become part of a luxury hotel that has moved through the hands of the Archdiocese of New York, various hotel corporations, and even a foreign government.
Besides its historic incorporation of the Gilded Age‘s Villard Mansion, the Lotte Palace Hotel has also found fame through its media appearances in series including Inventing Anna and Gossip Girl. To learn more about the Lotte New York Palace Hotel, join Untapped New York Insiders for another lively conversation with Richard Roth Jr. as he takes listeners through some of his family’s greatest achievements in hotel architecture, including some of his own. Listen to Roth Jr.’s stories about one of his most infamous clients, the Hemsleys who opened the Helmsley Palace Hotel in 1981. Become a member today (use code JOINUS for your first month free).
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Here are our top 10 secrets of the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in New York City.
1. The Government of Brunei once owned the Palace Hotel
Villard lost the Villard Houses after he went bankrupt, beginning the hotel’s legacy of ownership switches. After the hotel experienced severe financial difficulties, the Helmsley family ceded the hotel to the family of Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in 1993.
The money problems only continued under Bruneian royalty, though. A private venture company led by Prince Jefri Bolkiah, the younger brother of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, purchased the hotel. Prince Jefri Bolkiah, who was also the finance minister, allegedly embezzled $16 billion dollars during his tenure, resulting in the seizure of some of his properties by the government of Brunei. From 2007 to 2011, the Brunei government had ownership of the hotel until the American investment company Northwood Investment acquired it.