Barzani Family Spends $47 Million on Two Beverly Hills Homes as Iraqi’s Kurdistan Region goes bankrupt

Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is one of Southern California’s biggest tourist attractions, its glitzy collection of designer boutiques — Chanel, Hermès and more — forming their own sort of Magic Kingdom to lure gawkers, and sometimes serious shoppers, from around the world. The residential streets just north of the main shopping drag have their own peculiar quality, too, with rows of ornate mansions and perfectly manicured yards.
The city’s omnipresent tour buses have taken to meandering up and down these palm tree-lined streets, frequently stopping to allow occupants to photograph this or that celebrity’s house. But on a busy avenue just a few blocks from Rodeo, one house draws attention despite not having a Hollywood pedigree. Maison 613, as the property is known, was long owned by a non-famous businessman.
It’s not hard to see what fascinates the tourists. Watch a marketing video for the property, and the magnitude of Maison 613 comes into focus. Up for sale two years ago with a $40 million pricetag, the listing boldly proclaimed that the house “sets a new standard for elegance, beauty and sophistication in the residential landscape of Beverly Hills.” Within the mega-mansion’s nearly 21,000 square feet of gilt-trimmed living space are a beauty salon, elevator, indoor basketball court, 17 bathrooms and even a bowling alley. And from the street, the European-influenced architecture invokes Versailles. The house looks like money — a remarkably showy sort of money.

A mile north of Maison 613 lies another mansion that might as well be its older, slightly smaller sister. Foothill Manor, as it is known, was built in the 1970s and spans “just” ۱۲,۰۰۰ square feet, yet is every bit as opulent as Maison 613, with more Corinthian
columns, hand-carved architectural moldings and gold leaf everywhere. It’s also more private than Maison 613, with its perimeter a forest-like collection of mature plantings. But the house is so tall that even the giant trees surrounding it can’t shield its roofline from public view.
Yet even though Maison 613 and Foothill Manor were designed to impart conspicuous wealth, the names of their current owners are shrouded in secrecy. Maison 613 sold last year for $27 million in an all-cash deal, according to records, one of the biggest transactions ever closed in the Beverly Hills Flats neighborhood. The listed buyer, an LLC, is named after the property’s address and links back to a small, nondescript law office in Fairfax, Virginia.
Just three months before Maison 613’s big sale, Foothill Manor transferred for $20 million in another all-cash deal. Again, the listed buyer is a mysterious LLC named after the property’s address; it, too, was registered by the same Virginia law office. As Nick Shaxson once neatly put it for Vanity Fair, there are only two things we can say with certainty about the new owners: “They are extremely wealthy, and… don’t want you to know who they are and how they got their money.”
Dive deep into records, however, and one name is linked to both Beverly Hills properties: Haval Dosky, a Virginia-based, ethnically Kurdish man with longstanding ties to Mansour Barzani, a prominent son of former Iraqi Kurdistan president Masoud Barzani.
For centuries, the Barzani family have been the de facto rulers of the Middle East’s autonomous Kurdistan region. And the Barzanis’ influence among the Kurds is so great that supporters and critics alike have coined the cheeky nickname Barzanistan for the oil-rich region.
Barzani’s tenure as president was also marred by controversy. Critics alleged that he and his family held a virtual monopoly on various commercial businesses, reaping tens of billions from their telecommunications empire and other endeavors. Though Barzani himself denied any involvement with commercial enterprises, a local newspaper accused Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party of collecting large profits from illegal oil smuggling into Iran. And a $47 million purchase of Beverly Hills real estate by his sons could be construed as providing evidence of corruption.
But stories of the Barzani sons’ vast wealth are nothing new. Real estate watchers widely believe that Masrour Barzani was the anonymous buyer of a gigantic mansion in
McLean, Virginia, that ranks as one of the largest homes in the entire state. And local reports state Mansour Barzani once lost $3.2 million in a single night while gambling at a Dubai casino.
Much like Maison 613, Foothill Manor is also vacant. Signs posted on the driveway gate state that a major interior remodel of the home has recently begun, rendering the place uninhabitable. But according to neighbors, the giant house was occupied for most of the past year by Sodabeh “Soodi” Khoshdaman, a U.K.-based woman who they said is a mistress of one of Masoud Barzani’s sons, and the mother of a boy carrying the Barzani surname.
Whatever Khoshdaman’s actual ties to the Barzani clan, they appear to have reaped extraordinary financial rewards for her. British land registry records reveal that in December 2016, she paid £۱۰٫۹ million (approximately $14 million USD at current conversion rates) in an all-cash deal for a fixer-upper house in London’s shockingly expensive neighborhood of Kensington.
The extravagance of these Virginia, Beverly Hills and London homes is unfathomable to other Kurds, many of whom struggle to earn a living. About 5.5% of Iraqi Kurdistan’s population subsists on less than $80 per month, and while the region is economically prosperous compared to the rest of Iraq, even the reasonably successful Kurdish doctors only earn the monthly equivalent of a couple thousand USD.
The Kurdistan Region Government on the other hand, is now close to bankrupt. It hasn’t even been able to pay a single salary of public servants for 2020.
The ‘economic independence’ project the Barzani’s had initiated, trying to separate the Region’s economy from the Iraqi economy, has been such a seismic policy failure that it would have led to the demise of the entire involved leaders in any democratic polity. And that’s without looking into the leaders’ corruption and absurd buying patterns of mansions and gold-wrapped cars abroad.

Previous «
Next »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *