The billionaire Reuben brothers have bought a building in New York which looks set to become an American outpost of 5 Hertford Street, the exclusive private members club in Mayfair.
David and Simon Reuben paid about $40 million (£28.5 million) for the property on East 16th Street, near Union Square.
They have leased it to Ghanim bin Saad al-Saad, a Qatari business leader who is planning to finance the venture. The deal was brokered by Amanda Staveley.
The building is said to have been chosen by Robin Birley.
Birley created 5 Hertford Street in 2012 after being disinherited from his father Mark Birley’s club empire, which included Annabel’s and Harry’s Bar. He was backed in the venture by the Reuben brothers and Ben Goldsmith.
Birley, 59, has said he tries to make sure at least 40% of his members are women — not because he is “PC” but because “it’s about having a femininity”.
A source told the Times it would cost about $120 million to fit out the New York building.
A joint press statement said the plan is to create a 65,000 sq ft members club and hotel “most likely under Robin Birley’s 5 Hertford Street brand”.
It added: “The Reuben Brothers already own the 5 Hertford Street property in London’s Mayfair and are minority shareholders in that operation.”
Staveley’s involvement in the deal has raised hopes that she could work with the Reuben brothers on a renewed bid to buy Newcastle United.
The Reuben family did agree to financial terms last year to support Staveley’s bid to buy the football club from Mike Ashley, but reports back in January played down such a deal.
Staveley’s work with the Reuben brothers on the New York deal offers some hope that the situation will be reassessed in the coming weeks and months.
Staveley has known the Reuben brothers for 15 years and they already have property interests in the city of Newcastle including Newcastle Racecourse.
It comes after the Reuben brothers agreed to buy a property in London’s Pall Mall for £35 million – their first purchase of the year.
In 2017 they spent more than £200 million on property in the capital, culminating with the purchase of a St James’s building from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which could house a new London gallery.
An investment vehicle used by Simon and David Reuben paid around £23 million for 22 King Street, a grade II-listed office block which was used by RBS’s private banking division Adam & Company until it moved in September.
The brothers also won planning consent to transform the former In & Out members club into a luxury hotel.
The brothers, who are of Iraqi Jewish descent, were ranked at number three in the 2017 Sunday Times Rich List, with a £14 billion fortune from property and the internet.
DealMakerz reckons 2018 is already shaping up to be another active year for the Reuben brothers, who clearly haven’t been put off by the recent economic uncertainty.
We think New York’s rich and famous will be lining up to become members of the new club, which, if it’s anything like the London branch, will be one of the most exclusive clubs in the city.