Donald Trump likely regrets coming down the escalator at Trump Tower in June 2015, because it put him under unprecedented scrutiny. Now, New York state judge Arthur Engoron’s ruling that the Trump Organization committed business fraud by overvaluing Trump Tower and other properties it controls could cost him dearly.
The ruling dissolving the Trump Organization and its associated entities could cost the former president ownership of the iconic tower he opened on Fifth Avenue in 1983. Trump built his brand on a façade of wealth and success.
Trump’s former fixer-turned-nemesis Michael Cohen predicted during an appearance on CNN that Trump’s business empire will be “liquidated [because] the judge has already determined that the fraud existed.”
Could Trump Tower Be Sold?
If the judge puts the Trump Organization and its properties into receivership, Trump Tower and other assets could be sold off.
Engoron’s ruling earlier this week claimed that Trump overvalued his three-story penthouse in Trump Tower by between $114 million to $207 million. He cited in his ruling a 2017 article that appeared in Forbes that claimed the then-president had been exaggerating its square footage.
“Those comments were typical Trump: boastful and inaccurate. We recently dug up New York City records showing that he still shares those floors with a neighbor and has been exaggerating the size of his own place by a factor of three,” the Forbes article said. “Records show Trump acquiring a 6,096-square-foot triplex apartment, occupying sections of floors 66 through 68, around the time Trump Tower opened in 1983.”
Forbes continued, “A decade later he expanded his penthouse, merging parts of two neighboring apartments into his home, according to the filings. The end result is 10,996 square feet of prime Manhattan real estate — a massive residence, no doubt, but much smaller than what Trump claims to own. No records filed with the city indicate that he has added or shed square footage in the years since.”
Engoron chided Trump’s defense in its claim that square footage can be subjective by stating that “[g]ood-faith measurements could vary by as much as 10-20%, not 200%.”
Trump’s Tarnished Brand
Trump’s lawyers, in typical Trump fashion, claim that the Trump brand alone adds significant value. That might have been the case before Trump ran for president, but times have changed. The same Manhattan elite that made him a star now despises him.
Forbes noted in an article last October that “New York City nearly doubled its estimate of Trump Tower’s value, from $119 million to $232 million.” Trump Tower’s profits tanked after Donald Trump’s entry into politics starting in 2015, when it fell to $15.3 million from $19 million in 2014, $14.1 million in 2016, and $13.9 million in 2017.
Properties including 4-6 East 57th Street, Trump Park Avenue, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, 40 Wall Street, and Trump’s family compound at Seven Springs could also be affected.
“These properties are even more damaged goods today because of the success in demonstrating they are massively overvalued. The most likely thing, if you get an honest agent or receiver, they’re going to sell the properties at a loss. And when you’ve got a whole bunch of properties, with the first one you just desperately need to get some action, and that gets discounted the most,” William Black, a white-collar criminologist at the University of Minnesota Law School, told The Guardian.
Engoron similarly accused Trump of overvaluing his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
“Donald Trump’s for 2011-2021 value Mar-a-Lago at between $426,529,614 and $612,110,496, an overvaluation of at least 2,300%, compared to the assessor’s appraisal,” Engoron ruled.
Trump In Public Eye for 40 Years, Why Now?
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ timing raises questions as to why a fraud case was not brought by a prior New York attorney general, and the politics behind it all. Evidence suggests he was engaging in these same practices while he hosted the hit show “The Apprentice.” Why wasn’t he hauled in while he was just a celebrity show host?
Why wait until Trump is running for president? Why wasn’t such a case brought a decade ago when Trump was just an allegedly corrupt businessman? The strategy is apparent. Trump derives his identity from his wealth. His enemies hope that taking that away from him will result in him becoming a broken man who will live the remainder of his days in prison.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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