“I’m really rich.”
That, according to Donald Trump, is one of the primary reasons you should vote for him. He’s so rich that he doesn’t pander to millionaire donors, so rich that he can buy and sell all the other Republican presidential candidates combined, several times over.
How rich? A net worth of almost $10 billion, claims Trump. Forbes says it’s closer to $4.5 billion, give or take a billion. “They don’t know many of my assets,” Trump says. “But they’re very nice people.”
Either way, he has a staggering amount of money and everything that comes with living among the 1 percent of the 1 percent. He’s the richest man ever to run for president, richer than Ross Perot and Steve Forbes and Mitt Romney. “I have a Gucci store that’s worth more than Romney,” Trump told the Des Moines Register.
As a developer, Trump says, he has spent his life dealing with construction workers and other blue-collar folks, so his fortune has never been an issue with them. “I think they view it as beneficial to a lot of people, perhaps aspirational,” he says. “They think of me as one of them, and I think of myself as one of them.”
A man who has never met a superlative he didn’t like, Trump says he’s not bragging when he talks about his success. According to the Gospel of Trump, his business savvy, his money, his stuff — these are all proof that he’s a winner. With bravado, humor and relentless self-promotion, he has parlayed that confidence into a business empire and an international brand, and now he claims that he’ll do the same for the country. In the Two Americas of 2015, Trump has somehow tapped into our historic belief in the American dream — that his stuff can be your stuff, too, if you work hard enough.
And Trump lives large. Huugge. Everything is fantastic, the best, world-class. What, exactly, he owns personally or through his many corporations is difficult to distinguish, as plenty of buildings with “Trump” slapped across the facade are just part of his vast licensing empire. But this much is clear: He doesn’t live anything like the ordinary voter, and millions of fans love him for that.
And so we present, with verification from Trump and his campaign, a brief tour of The Donald’s larger-than-life world.
His father, Fred Trump, once said that everything his son touched turned to gold. A real estate developer in Queens and Brooklyn, the elder Trump gave Donald the cash to try his hand at the Manhattan real estate market. That young Midas now rules his domain from a three-story penthouse at the top of Trump Tower.
“If you’re really successful, you’ll all live just like this,” Trump told contestants from a season of “The Apprentice” standing in his living room. “Well, maybe not like this.” He told another team on the show: “Some people consider it to be the greatest apartment in the world. I would never, ever say that myself — but it’s certainly a nice apartment.”
Sitting atop the 68-story glass skyscraper at 725 Fifth Ave. (also home to his corporate office), the apartment is decorated in what we’ll call High Trump style. Modeled after the Palace of Versailles, it boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, hand-painted ceilings, fountains, paintings, lots of marble and the crowning glory: two huge gold-plated entrance doors. Real estate experts estimate that the penthouse would sell for at least $100 million if it were to go on the market today.
Like any billionaire, Trump has country retreats. The most luxurious is Mar-a-Lago, the oceanside estate in Palm Beach, Fla., that he bought in 1985 for $10 million. Built in 1927 by heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, the property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, sits on 20 acres of what many consider the most valuable land in Florida. The mansion has 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, 12 fireplaces, a spa, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a croquet court and a golf course just minutes away.
Trump used the mansion as a private home for a decade and hosted his famous friends there (Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley honeymooned at the estate.) In 1995, he turned it into an elite membership club but kept private quarters for his family. After adding a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, he celebrated his marriage to his third wife, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, at the estate in 2005, holding a reception with 500 guests who included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Simon Cowell, Barbara Walters and Tony Bennett. Billy Joel sang “Just the Way You Are.”
Trump also has a place closer to New York City that his family uses as a weekend retreat. Seven Springs, in Bedford, N.Y., was built in 1919 by Eugene Meyer, the former Federal Reserve chairman and publisher of The Washington Post. Trump bought the 60-room mansion in 1996 for $7.5 million with plans to develop the 230-acre property, but so far it has remained just a family getaway.
When he’s in the mood for tropical breezes, there’s Le Chateau Des Palmiers, his private resort on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. And if he’s campaigning on the West Coast, he can always crash at his Beverly Hills mansion.
And, once again proving the art of the deal, Trump snapped up the former Kluge estate in Charlottesville, Va., for a song. The 2,000-acre property was the pride and joy of billionaire John Kluge and his wife, Patricia, who poured millions into the 23,000-square-foot mansion as well as the winery and vineyard. But the enterprise was never a commercial success, and after Kluge’s death, his widow put it on the market for $100 million before the bank seized it. Trump first bought the vineyard and land surrounding the mansion in 2011 for $7.9 million, then got the 45-room mansion for $6.5 million. It’s now called Trump Vineyard Estates.
“Unless it’s going to be iconic, I have no interest,” Trump told the Real Deal, which covers New York real estate. “The word ‘trophy’ is not even good enough.”
Da plane! Da plane!
If you’re Donald Trump, you do not sit around in first class on some commercial flight. You have your own jet or two, plus a helicopter. Trump still has to go through security, but the line for private jet passengers is much, much shorter.
His main ride is a Boeing 757, purchased in 2011 from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and then tricked out to Trumptastic standards: Rolls-Royce engines, 24-karat-gold trim and seat-belt buckles, leather seats for up to 43 passengers, television screens and two bedrooms in the space that would normally carry some 239 people, and “TRUMP” emblazoned on the side.
The 757, valued at $100 million, is one of the biggest and fastest corporate jets in the world. It’s special enough to have merited its own documentary on the Smithsonian Channel in 2013, where viewers watched the pilot clean the upholstery with a toothbrush and wipe down the galley to meet Trump’s perfectionist standards.
He also owns a Cessna Citation X corporate jet that holds 12 passengers, as well as three $7 million Sikorsky S-76 helicopters, one of which he set down near the Iowa State Fair to give rides to kids. Fair officials refused to let him use the fairgrounds, so he moved a short distance away — and, of course, got all the coverage.
Most of the time — say, 99 percent — Trump rides in a limo chauffeured by one of his two New York drivers. It’s arguably the very best perk of being rich: no road rage, no circling the block for a legal parking space. When he showed up for jury duty at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan in August, his limo dropped him directly in front of the building and sat in the “No stopping anytime” zone until he came out hours later. Because he’s Donald Trump.
“He’s a great boss,” Eddie Diaz, who has been working for the tycoon since 2000, told Newsweek. Trump, a “down-to-earth guy,” uses only American cars, Diaz said. Foreign cars are “not allowed.”
Perhaps not for the limos, but Trump has a handful of elite foreign cars sprinkled around his various properties, according to his campaign. He’s a big fan of Rolls-Royce and started with a vintage 1956 Silver Cloud; now there’s a 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom ($500,000 and up) that he occasionally drives himself, as well as a Maybach, a Ferrari, a Mercedes-Benz S600 and an SLR McLaren (with a $455,000 price tag) that he bought as a present for Melania. He no longer owns the electric-blue 1997 Lamborghini Diablo (it was spotted by car enthusiasts with his name on it), but in 2005, “Apprentice” contestants had to create an advertising campaign for the luxury Italian make. Rounding out the fleet are two made in the USA: a Cadillac Escalade and a Tesla.
Trump’s weakness? Golf. And he’s very good, according to him and the people with whom he plays.
He loves the game, loves to shave a stroke or two (if you believe his fellow players) and loves building the best golf courses in the universe. His current holdings include more than a dozen courses, including in Scotland (where his mother was born), Ireland, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
How much they’re worth is the subject of vigorous debate. Trump values his 16 golf-related businesses at $550 million or more. Experts in the field say he’s wildly exaggerating: With revenue of $160 million, they’re worth (generously) $250 million. That doesn’t account, of course, for the value of the properties as future real estate developments.
Golf is a rich man’s game, and he’s fine with that. “Golf should be something beautiful, elegant, something people aspire to play eventually,” Trump told Fortune magazine earlier this year. So no, you can’t afford to play at his courses.
You’re fired, Mr. Trump.
Although the billionaire still co-owns the “Apprentice” franchise with producer Mark Burnett, he no longer serves as the host of the hit NBC show. Trump says he gave up the show to run for president; media sources say the network cut him loose in June, shortly after his public comments about Hispanic immigrants. (Take heart, fans: “The Celebrity Apprentice” will continue, with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the boardroom chair.)
But during its heyday, the reality show was huge. Before it debuted in 2004, Trump was primarily known on the East Coast. “The Apprentice” made him a household name nationwide and “You’re fired!” a national catchphrase. Trump says he earned more than $213,000 from the show, but the real value was the explosion of the Trump brand — which he now estimates to be worth $3 billion in licensing and other deals.
NBC also pulled the plug on Trump’s beauty pageant franchise — “Miss Universe,” “Miss USA” and “Miss Teen USA.” Trump co-owned the pageants jointly with NBC for more than a decade until the launch of his presidential campaign, appearing onstage and alongside the contestants amid press appearances and the inevitable beauty queen scandals. After his public rift with the network, he purchased the sole rights to the pageants, then turned around and sold them to media group WME/IMG for an undisclosed amount.
“When I purchased the pageants many years ago, they were in serious trouble,” Trump said in a statement. “It has been a great honor making them so successful, and I have really enjoyed watching the pageants grow throughout the U.S.A. and worldwide.” But the broadcasts, like the swimsuit competition, were more about exposure than equity: In his financial statement, Trump valued the pageants at just $15 million.
Doesn’t every billionaire own a yacht? The Donald was once captain of his own mega-yacht but, sadly, sold it.
Built in 1980, the 282-foot boat, worth $100 million (the equivalent of more than $250 million today), was originally built for Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi and was sexy enough to appear in the James Bond movie “Never Say Never Again” as the ship of villain Maximillian Largo. Khashoggi had money troubles and sold the yacht to the sultan of Brunei, who sold it to Trump in 1987 for just $29 million.
Named the Trump Princess, it was the third-largest yacht in the world at the time, boasting room for 22 passengers and 52 crew members — 11 luxury staterooms, three elevators, a movie theater, a disco, a swimming pool and a helicopter landing deck. It was everything a sea-loving man could ask for.
But Trump wasn’t really much of a boat guy. So a year after the real estate recession hit in 1990, he sold the boat to Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal for $20 million and hasn’t purchased another since.
He’s all out. Trump Plaza in Atlantic City shuttered last year. Trump’s crown jewel, the $1.2 billion Trump Taj Mahal, is limping but still open, although Trump no longer owns it or any other casino along the boardwalk.
A smart business move, Trump told the Daily Beast: “I almost feel guilty about it, but I made a lot of money in Atlantic City and I got out.”
“What’s the difference between a wet raccoon and Donald J. Trump’s hair?” Trump asked during his Comedy Central roast in 2011. “A wet raccoon doesn’t have seven billion f---ing dollars in the bank.”
No list of Trump’s assets would be complete without his greatest pride and joy: Trump Hair. Not just any hair, but the golden blow-dry that has launched a thousand jokes, a fever dream of hair-sprayed invincibility. And, he insists, it’s all his.
“I do not wear a toupee,” he told supporters in August, pulling a woman from the audience to prove it by having her touch his very real, not-a-toupee hair.
This is hair so inspiring that it caused Homer Simpson to go on a Trumptastic Voyage. “If I touch it, will it heal my baldness?” asked an awestruck Homer.
Donald Trump: The man, the mane, the legend. If not president, maybe patron saint of the Hair Club for Men.