The New York Times story that disclosed that in ten years to 1994, Donald J Trump lost over a billion dollars may have been a shock to some people but not to me.
I didn’t know the exact figure but twenty nine years ago, with the help of a Forbes magazine article and Trump himself I knew this self-proclaimed billionaire was blowing smoke and was on track to lose every penny he had to his creditors.
In the Spring of 1990, the Forbes business magazine published an article on what they had learned from sources about Trump’s financial situation. It caught our eye on the ABC network program Prime Time Live which I co-anchored with Diane Sawyer.
I called Trump and asked to interview him about his finances. He said come on as long as I agreed not to ask questions about his marital difficulties with his first wife Ivana which was then spread all over the NYC papers. I readily made the deal.
On Thursday morning ,May 3, 1990, we taped an interview with Trump in his office and that night aired what he said about the Forbes article. We were both younger and looked better and he was able to finish his sentences without wandering off into irrelevances.
But the Trump Style of denying facts, spinning a false picture, stroking his own ego and attacking the message (me) was already in full bloom.
Watch for yourself. Here is the link.
Now, let’s look at what happened.
-No one offered more than he paid for his airline and in fact Trump defaulted on his 380 million airline loan and in September of 1990, a consortium of banks led by Citibank assumed ownership.
-In 1992, Trump declared Pre-Packaged Bankruptcy/Default on the Plaza Hotel. He had paid 407 million of borrowed money to buy the hotel and had put in 25 million more for renovations. His trophy the Plaza was sold in 1995 for 325-million.
-The person who was going to buy the Princess in the next week after our interview for 115 million never showed up (didn’t exist?). Trump had paid 29 million for the boat and had renovated it for an additional 9 million. He sold this trophy in September of 1990, for 20 million
-As for the 835-million Trump had borrowed to build the Taj Mahal hotel/casino in Atlantic City, Forbes magazine was correct. He couldn’t service the debt and arranged a Pre-packaged bankruptcy In 1991.
And that would have “cooked him” for good except for the fact at this point Carl Icahn, a real billionaire friend, agreed to assume the Taj’s debt and allowed Trump to keep his name on the property under a Management agreement.
The management didn’t go all that well – in 2015, the U S Treasury financial Crimes Department fined Trump 10-million for “Money laundering.”
Since his failures in the early 1990s, the New York banks have refused to lend Trump money. But he got it somewhere in order to keep going in his wily pursuit of conning the rubes, in the process destroying others financial well being through a variety of schemes and refusal to pay his debts even to workmen and jobbers with whom he did business.
We may learn from whom and how much money he has borrowed since 1994, on the day we see Trump’s tax rerutrns.
The same day, I assume, that I will receive his books!