Sultan of Brunei Reportedly Aims to Acquire Plaza Hotel in New York

11:04 AM PST 08/16/2014 by THR Staff
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Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is said to be favored to acquire the historic luxury hotel

The Sultan of Brunei, whose Beverly Hills Hotel and Dorchester Collection properties have been subject to a Hollywood boycott, is reportedly eyeing another asset: New York's Plaza Hotel.

The leader of the Southeast Asian nation is a favored candidate to acquire the historic Manhattan luxury hotel from Sahara India Pariwar, the U.K.'s Times of London reported Friday. The Indian company acquired the hotel in 2012 along with the Dream Hotel in New York. 

A Dorchester Collection rep tells The Hollywood Reporter that the company has "no knowledge" of acquisition plans. According to the Times of London's report, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah may "finance and run the new assets separately through his family’s Oasis vehicle."

The Sultan of Brunei's Dorchester Collection, controlled via his Brunei Investment Agency, has been a target of a high-profile boycott following the Sharia penal code — which levies harsh penalties for gays and adulterers — that was instituted in Brunei in early May. 

Since April, many prominent entertainment industry figures (ranging from Jay Leno to Sharon Osbourne to Ellen DeGeneres) and companies (ICM Partners) and organizations (Motion Picture Television Fund) have issued public statements in support of the boycott. (The Hollywood Reporter pulled its annual Women In Entertainment event from the Beverly Hills Hotel.)

The Dorchester Collection properties also have been subject to demonstrations and protests since April. A few celebrities, including Kim Kardashian and Russell Crowe, have questioned how effective a boycott of the historic Beverly Hills Hotel would be on Bolkiah's penal code in the country. 

That sentiment has been echoed by the Dorchester Collection's CEO, Christopher Cowdray."I feel totally unfairly picked on," the exec said during a televised CBS interview May 6. "All they are doing is hurting a local business."

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