Iranian President Ahmadinejad Soaks Up Manhattan High Life

Ahmadinejad's underlings go on a shopping spree at discount chains Payless, Costco, Walgreens, and Duane Reade.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he attends the high-level meeting on rule of law in the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24, 2012.
+ More

While President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leisurely relishes the Manhattan highlife, his Iranian underlings have been scouring the town for low prices — including cheap shoes.

Bargain-hunting members of the huge visiting delegation eagerly visited a Costco, a Payless shoe store, a Walgreens and a Duane Reade in recent days while hunting for discount products in short supply back home:

Shampoo. Soap. Vitamins. Tylenol.

"Since they are under sanctions, they can't get this stuff," a man assigned to work with the Iranians told the Daily News on Wednesday. ". . . (And) their money is weak compared to the dollar."

[See political cartoons on Iran]

One Iranian visitor debated dropping $40 for a pair of kids' shoes Monday at a Payless on Fifth Ave. before finally springing for the footwear, the delegation insider said."

The inexpensive footwear was enough to almost empty the Iranian's wallet.

The trip to a Harlem Costco secured an assortment of wholesale shampoos, while a drugstore visit brought more than a dozen bottles of vitamins and Tylenol.

While the Iranians scrambled for the staples of most Western bathrooms, their Holocaust-denying boss remained comfortably ensconced in midtown's posh Warwick Hotel."

Three personal chefs were at Ahmadinejad's beck and call, and the Iranians booked two full floors in the luxury hotel, where suites can go for $1,600 a night, according to a hotel employee.

The cooks brought in their own food, and the president's men dined on the second floor.

Outside the W. 54th St. entrance, visitors have been required to pass through a metal detector and run any bags through a screening machine.

[Read More: Twitter Reacts to Ahmadinejad's United Nations Speech]

The intense security ensures that Ahmadinejad never rubs elbows with local riffraff — or the average discount shopper.

The visible security force at the posh hotel commissioned by William Randolph Hearst in 1924 includes at least a dozen federal officers assigned to protect visiting dignitaries.

Ahmadinejad entered and departed the hotel via a security entrance covered by a white tent, offering passersby little more than a glimpse of the tieless tyrant.

Tourist Susan Meares, 68, of Sydney, Australia, found the whole thing a bit difficult to endure.

"I think the staff were really fed up," she said Wednesday.

"The whole place is flooded with Iranians. And the security — it's horrible."

A 40-year-old visitor from Germany was equally spooked. "I thought somebody would throw a bomb or something," she said.

But she was impressed by most members of the expansive and expensive Iranian entourage when they met in the hotel.

"They were very nice people, especially the ladies," she said. "When I said, ‘Where are you from?' they said, 'Persia.' They didn't want to say they were from Iran."

The two-term president was criticized at home for bringing an estimated 140 people along for his final UN speech as Iran's leader.

[Ahmadinejad Yom Kippur Address to U.N. Draws Protesters]

"Many . . . have only traveled there for a picnic," sniped Mansour Haghighatpour, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on national security.

The delegation insider disagreed, saying the guests wanted no part of jewelry stores, boutiques or high-end retailers — like the plush Lord & Taylor directly across Fifth Ave. from the Payless.

Instead, they preferred any drugstore where they could stock up on over-the-counter medication.

"They spend their day buying a lot of medicine," he said.

After their Payless visit, a quartet of Iranians were rousted by the NYPD over an alleged anonymous report of a weapon in their car. Police couldn't immediately verify that account.

"They just wanted to show them, ‘We are watching you,' " the insider said. "You know how New York City is."

The cut-rate shopping sprees come despite an assortment of landmarks within walking distance of the hotel: Central Park, Rockefeller Center and Carnegie Hall.

While their leader directs endless vitriol at the United States, the Iranian visitors did make sightseeing trips to one unlikely destination: The Statue of Liberty.