New York's Plaza Hotel Could Be Sold To The Sultan Of Brunei Despite Anti-Gay Controversy: Reports

08/18/2014 12:07 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

UPDATE Aug. 19: A spokesperson for the Sultan of Brunei dismissed the original Wall Street Journal report in an email cited by Reuters.

"Neither His Majesty, the Brunei Investment Agency, nor the government of Brunei are involved in any way in the purchase of the Grosvenor House in London or the Plaza and Dream Downtown hotels in New York," a spokesman at Bell Pottinger, acting on behalf of the Sultan of Brunei, wrote.

One of New York's most iconic landmarks could soon be under controversial new ownership.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, has offered to pay about $2 billion to acquire New York's Plaza Hotel, along with London's Grosvenor House and the Dream Hotel in lower Manhattan.

The publication cites an investment vehicle affiliated with Brunei as the source of the information, and notes that the offer is just one among "a handful" of prospective buyers.

The sultan has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months for his nation's controversial new penal code, which took effect on April 22 and includes death by stoning as a punishment for same-sex acts.

Many protests have targeted the Dorchester Collection, a Brunei-owned luxury hotel operator whose U.S. properties include the Hotel Bel-Air and the Beverly Hills Hotel, in response to the news.

Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, British comic Stephen Fry and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour are just a few of the high-profile names to express their distaste for the new code.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the hotel chain released a statement to WWD, saying that officials had "no involvement in this religious and political issue.”

“We continue to abide by the laws of the countries we operate in and do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind," the spokesperson added, according to the report. "The laws that exist in other countries outside of where Dorchester Collection operates do not affect the policies that govern how we run our hotels."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is just one of several lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights groups have sounded off on news of the potential Plaza Hotel sale.

"The American profit stream that flows from his hotels back to his regime needs to stop," Ty Cobb, HRC’s Director of Global Engagement, said in a statement. "We urge all New Yorkers to have one simple and straight-forward message for the Sultan: take your business elsewhere."

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