PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLA. -- With creditors calling in the Northeast, Donald Trump last weekend auctioned his stake in waterfront condominium towers bearing his name in Florida for $15.2 million.
"I'm de-leveraging, and it should be treated as a positive thing," said Trump, complaining about the news coverage of his shrinking real estate empire. "I'm selling several things off."
Trump said he and Marine Midland Bank settled his debt on the original $60 million loan for Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches last week and agreed to split the auction proceeds.
The 63 condominiums are in twin 32-story towers in downtown West Palm Beach with living-room views across the Intracoastal Waterway to chic Palm Beach and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
Morry Weiss, a greeting card company president, walked away with the choicest unit, a 3,841-square-foot penthouse, after chomping on a toothpick and bidding $700,000 to beat out a woman bidding by speaker phone from Chicago.
"I came down with the thought that I might be here," said Weiss, head of American Greetings Corp. in Cleveland. "This bid is fine."
Many bidders were looking for a steal, and Mort Salkind of Secaucus, N.J., came the closest, buying a sixth-floor unit for the day's low of $167,500. "I intended to buy at the right price. This was the right price," Salkind said.
Many bidders were looking for vacation homes, investment property or both.
Investment manager Rion Choate of Charlotte, N.C., spent $215,000 on a 10th-floor, three-bedroom corner condo.
"I just feel sorry for the guy next door who paid $315,000," he said, referring to the previous asking price for the neighboring unit. Choate said he had been willing to pay up to $233,000.
The auction, with bidding at the PGA National resort in Palm Beach Gardens, the Waldorf Astoria in New York and the Swissotel in Chicago, drew more than 1,000 people, according to organizers of the auction.
The proceeds came on top of $8.8 million bid in December for 35 units, but several of those sales were never completed.
Trump's holdings, meanwhile, are under assault elsewhere. In New Jersey, state gambling regulators are deciding whether to relicense his two Atlantic City casinos.
Trump also has been under increasing pressure from creditors to surrender some of his debt-laden holdings.
On Monday, he said agreements had been reached to sell the Trump Shuttle, cede his stake in New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel and give up his Trump Princess yacht.