Trump’s Wealth? Better Off Doing Nothing


Trump understates his early wealth as much as he overstates his present wealth. He says when he started out he was worth “about $200,000” but he’s just burnishing his brand.

A son of a real estate mogul, he’s in no position to spin a “rags to riches” yarn. By saying he was worth $200,000 then and $10 billion now he can pose as a sort of a self-made guy who really does know the art of the deal.

But when he went into the family business, his dad had already built or acquired 14,000 New York City apartments. Lacking access to company records, no one can appraise their value with any precision, but anyone can do better than Trump. So here it is on the back of a napkin. In those days, city apartments sold for about $45 a square foot. Most Trump apartments were outside Manhattan, which lowers the price, but many were family units, which raises it back up some. A reasonable inflation adjusted estimate of their value back then approaches $3 billion. But New York real estate prices have since skyrocketed. If Trump had just paid down the mortgages and kept up the apartments, they’d be worth $8 billion today.

In other words if he’d done nothing at all he might now be worth what he says he’s worth.

Bill Curry

Don’t just do something, sit there!




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  1. DeDude commented on Sep 11

    In each of the 4 cases he bankrupted a company, he himself came out with very little personal loss. It was the employees and stock holders that ended up holding the bag.

    Yeah America, lets sign up for some of that.

    • Iamthe50percent commented on Sep 11

      Sounds like the American way of business to me. Every place that I have ever worked has disappeared, with the exception of the US Navy and the US Postal Service and the USPS is on life support. Don’t think the Navy is going to disappear. Which reminds me of an anecdote that I’d like to share. A friend of mine served aboard USS Missouri in the ’80s. His captain once gave a television interview in which he answered a question about whether battleships were obsolete. Chomping on a cigar, he said, “Madam, only two things can sink a US Navy battleship. A direct hit from a nuclear weapon. And the United States Congress.” Needless to say, he got in hot water with the Pentagon.

  2. RW commented on Sep 11

    “To turn $100 into $110 is work. To turn $100 million into $110 million is inevitable.” –Edgar Bronfman, Sr. (heir to Seagram’s fortune)

  3. VennData commented on Sep 11

    The Koch-funded basement that spreads their lies out through large-font, unattributed, unsigned, email machine has one going around that The Donald Trump’s a blue collar guy, I guess if Obama’s a foreigner, it makes sense.

  4. VennData commented on Sep 11

    The other thing you have to remember, the GOP Meda Machine has their legions conditioned to believe any criticism of these right wingers is a lie, something to be dismissed, elite liberals telling you how to think.

    Or in the modern vernacular an unfair “gotcha.”

    Or since we can’t check every single Iran checkpoint at once that the deal is somehow “bad” even as we can check the system as a whole. These Republicans don’t understand statistics, audits, process, they are simply dumb people.

  5. CD4P commented on Sep 11

    Um, methinks the Trump balance sheet has shrunk due to recently terminated deals related to his immigration comments and veteran bashing. This latest tidbit just makes the Trump kids wince all the more.

  6. mpappa commented on Sep 11

    Ok. That’s not the calculation. Gross value maybe. You can use different cap rate methods like Band of Investment to estimate the cap rates. Without books, NPV or DCF is impossible but you could estimate the same way you estimated $45.00 per foot. Also, what were interest rates back then? Property taxes? You’re missing a ton of things.

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