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Beverly Hills Hotel Sold to Wealthy Asian Sultan

October 07, 1987|RONALD L. SOBLE | Times Staff Writer

Wealthy oilman Marvin Davis has sold the landmark Beverly Hills Hotel, which he purchased less than a year ago, to the billionaire sultan of the oil-rich Asian nation of Brunei.

A terse announcement of the sale Tuesday afternoon by Davis' public relations firm did not specify a price, but knowledgeable sources said the deal was in the neighborhood of $185 million.

The announcement did not mention the sultan by name, only saying that the fabled pink hotel on Sunset Boulevard was sold to Sajahtera Inc. by Miller-Klutznick-Davis-Gray Co., a real estate partnership in which Davis has the majority interest.

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Apparently Davis began negotiating the sale just a few months after purchasing the property last December for $136 million and all but wrapped up the deal about two months ago, sources close to the transaction said.

Davis' public relations spokesman in Los Angeles, Lee Solters, said Davis would not comment on the sale.

"He won't speak to anyone," Solters said.

Sajahtera, sources said, is controlled by Sultan Muda Hassanal Bolkiah, whose wealth was recently measured by Fortune magazine at approximately $25 billion, making him one of the world's richest men.

The sultan also owns the Dorchester Hotel in London.

Ruling a tiny kingdom on the north coast of Borneo from his 1,788-room marble and mahogany palace, the sultan was persuaded last year by Secretary of State George P. Shultz to donate $10 million to the Nicaraguan rebels.

The donation became a colorful part of Congress' Iran- contra investigation when the cash was then inadvertently deposited into the wrong Swiss bank account, rather than the one controlled by Lt. Col. Oliver L. North.

Davis, 62, Denver oilman and former chairman of 20th Century Fox, purchased the hotel from Seema Boesky of New York and her sister, Muriel Slatkin of Beverly Hills, and her estranged husband, Burton Slatkin of Century City.

Boesky, who owned 52% of the hotel's stock, is the wife of Ivan F. Boesky, the former Wall Street stock speculator who this year pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiring to violate federal securities laws after an insider trading scandal that shook the nation's financial community.

Until Davis purchased the hotel, it had been the subject of a bitter court fight between the Boeskys and the Slatkins over whether Ivan Boesky used hotel profits to speculate on Wall Street--charges denied by the Boeskys--and whether the hotel should be sold at all.

Although Davis sold the hotel for about $50 million more than he paid for it, he did not make a killing because of recent revisions in the federal tax laws, sources said.

"It was a wash," one source said.

To close the deal last year, Davis had to outbid the sultan, New York real estate developer Donald Trump and a handful of other investors.

At the time of the December sale, Davis announced plans to pump about $40 million into a major remodeling job on the 76-year-old hotel's 260 guest rooms and bungalows in an effort to restore its legendary glitter.

The complex has served as the meeting place and temporary home for film greats, such as Greta Garbo, and the super-rich, such as Howard Hughes. It is the home of the Polo Lounge, which has long been a center of Hollywood deal-making.

The refurbishing, however, never got off the ground.

Reports circulated earlier this year that Davis had become disenchanted with the hotel's remodeling project and was searching for a buyer. Another reason for the quick sale, sources suggested Tuesday, was that Davis wanted his youngest son, Greg, to run the hotel, but that the plans did not work out.

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