Former Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan left Washington nearly seven years ago, but he’s still unwinding his luxury real estate holdings. This summer, at long last, his 5,400-square-foot Kalorama guest apartment is back on the market for $3.25 million—but he’s not the one who’s selling.
According to a source close to the former ambassador, a contract for the apartment’s sale was submitted to the 2029 Connecticut Avenue Condominium Unit Owners Association in May for $2.1 million. Feeling that price undervalued one of the largest downtown apartments in the city, the association exercised its right of first refusal, bought the apartment itself, and is now selling for a sum closer to the $3.1 million a comparable unit in the building garnered in 2011.
Who tried to buy it for so much less than it’s worth? According to a resident of the building, former FBI director and longtime friend of Prince Bandar Louis Freeh.
Roger Kline, a representative for Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, says Freeh was not personally trying to acquire the property, but rather was representing a third party.
Word of the condo association’s move to block the sale of the apartment has flown low on the radar of the local real estate community because there was no agent involved in the deal. The contract was reportedly submitted by the law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan on behalf of International Investment Holding Company, the foreign corporation formed to limit Prince Bandar’s liability at the properties he owns.
“I can’t believe Bandar would sell it for $2.1 million. I brought him $2.8 million a couple of times and he wouldn’t take it,” said Bill Moody, executive vice president of Washington Fine Properties, who listed the condo for $3.4 million in 2010.
Freeh and Bandar developed a deep friendship during the Clinton years, when the then-FBI director headed the investigation into the Khobar Tower bombings in Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 US military personnel and one Saudi citizen. The two grew so close that Bandar was the only person allowed to smoke in Freeh’s Hoover Building office.
The apartment is located in a historical Beaux Arts building that has been home to more than a few Washington celebrities, including President William Howard Taft and singer Lena Horne. It was purchased in the early ’80s by the Saudi Arabian government to be the home for a different Saudi official, said Nancy Dutton, attorney for the Saudi embassy. Bandar later bought the five-bedroom, five-bath apartment to use as a guest house.
This isn’t the first time this year that the recently appointed director of the Saudi Intelligence Agency has made real estate news. His famed Aspen estate, Hala Ranch, sold for $49 million in June—that’s $86 million less than he listed it for in 2006, at which time it was the most expensive real estate listing on the market.