Amid the more than 200-page lawsuit filed against Donald Trump by New York Attorney General Letitia James this week, an allegation has surfaced: the former president is not as rich as he has long claimed.
Take into account:
* Trump estimated that his triplex unit in Trump Tower was more than 30,000 square feet and worth $327 million at one point. The apartment, according to James’ suit, was 11,000 square feet. And he noted that no apartment in the history of New York real estate has ever sold for that amount.
* Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was valued at $739 million, but according to James, it should be appraised more in the $75 million range.
* Trump’s Park Avenue property was valued at $72.5 million in 2010, but Trump’s company said it was worth $292 million in financial statements, the lawsuit said.
It goes on and on, but you get the idea. Repeatedly, according to James’ lawsuit, Trump dramatically inflated the value of his properties in order to get favorable loan terms on other properties, many of which he later won.
This would fit into a pattern in Trump’s life.
“I mean, part of my beauty is that I’m very rich,” Trump told ABC in 2012. “So if I need $600 million, I can put up $600 million myself. That’s a big advantage. I have to tell you, that’s a big advantage over the other candidates.”
Before his run for president began, Trump released his 2014 “Statement of Financial Status,” which he said was worth $5.8 billion. But when he announced his candidacy in 2015, he said that statement put his net worth at $8.7 billion. “I’m really rich,” Trump said in his announcement speech. “I’m not doing this to brag. I’m doing that to show the thinking that our country needs.”
A month after entering the race, his campaign revised that estimate upward again.
“Real estate values in New York, San Francisco, Miami and many other places where property is owned have risen significantly over this time period,” read his campaign release. “Its debt is a very small percentage of value, and at very low interest rates. As of this date, Mr. Trump’s net worth is over TEN BILLION DOLLARS.
It’s hard to know exactly what Trump is worth because he has never released his tax returns or other detailed financial information that would allow us to make that determination.
Forbes, which closely tracks the wealth of the country’s richest people, said earlier this year that Trump is worth $3 trillion, up from $2.4 billion in his final year as president.
As Forbes wrote in April:
“Donald Trump, master of reinvention, has a new title: tech entrepreneur. It’s an interval [Trump], who doesn’t even use email, prefers to scribble notes in marker. But he doesn’t mind jumping into companies with little prior experience, and this gig should be far more lucrative than the presidency. In fact, he has already increased his net worth by 430 million dollars.
The reality is – and always has been – that Trump is very rich. But not nearly as rich as he said. This is a prime example of the “truthful hyperbole” Trump described in his book “The Art of the Deal” in the late 80s.
“People want to believe that something is the greatest and the grandest and the most spectacular,” he wrote. “I call it true hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration, and a very effective form of promotion.”
It’s also true that a large part of Trump’s self-definition has to do with being very rich. That means Wednesday was a tough day for the billionaire businessman.
Maggie Haberman as a New York Times political reporter he tweeted: “Whatever the outcome of the James case, the day a prosecutor declared at a press conference that Trump doesn’t count is a day he’s tried to avoid for decades.”