Trump’s net worth rises to $3 billion despite business setbacks
|Toronto Star 12 Jun 2019 at 18:42|
President Donald Trump’s net worth rose to $3 billion (U.S.), a 5 per cent gain over the past year, thanks to a jump in the value of an office-building deal he once sued to prevent.
The increase in Trump’s wealth reverses two years of declines and brings his net worth back to 2016 levels, according to figures compiled by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index from lenders, property records, securities filings, market data and a May 16 financial disclosure. It comes despite setbacks at his family company, including the cancellation of two new hotel chains and reduced business at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and seven golf courses.
Trump’s higher net worth shows how reliant his wealth has become on Steven Roth, a friend who leads Vornado Realty Trust. Trump’s 30 per cent stake in two Vornado properties — 1290 Ave. of the Americas, a 2.1-million-square-foot tower in midtown Manhattan, and 555 California St., a 1.8-million-square-foot office complex known as the Bank of America Center in San Francisco’s financial district — accounts for a quarter of his fortune. His partnership with Vornado, which owns the remaining 70 per cent, resulted from a chain of real estate transactions that Trump once sued to block.
Accepting the deal has proven lucrative. Over the past year, Trump’s stake in the two properties has surged to $765 million, a 33 per cent increase from the previous year, thanks to falling office capitalization rates and a boost in net income. A drop in marketwide capitalization rates, which track property prices against the net income they produce, can indicate increasing demand, raising valuations.
Trump’s stake in the Vornado buildings eclipses the combined value of his golf courses and resorts to become his biggest source of wealth. The value of the golf courses and clubs fell 19 per cent to $525 million as the industry grappled with falling demand.
The president’s financial disclosures, which provide revenues and the value of assets in broad ranges and aren’t definitive figures, offer a glimpse into his personal wealth. He manages his fortune through dozens of businesses that collectively form the Trump Organization. Before he took office, Trump placed his holdings in a revocable trust that’s for his exclusive benefit and is overseen by his two adult sons and longtime Trump Organization bookkeeper Allen Weisselberg. Amanda Miller, a company spokeswoman, and Alan Garten, its chief lawyer, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment. Neither did the White House press office.
The value of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which has become a hangout for Republicans and favour-seekers, was little changed. Revenue rose 1 per cent to $41 million, according to the president’s financial disclosure. But the value of the hotel fell 5 per cent to $95 million as multiples for comparable properties declined.
Trump’s office buildings, though, continued to appreciate. Trump Tower, which has experienced lower demand for its Fifth Avenue office and residential units, is now worth $445 million, 27 per cent more than last year. In addition to falling capitalization rates, it had higher net operating income in 2018 than the previous year and is on one of New York’s most valuable strips of land. It’s protected from decreases in the value of the condos because they’re now owned by others.
The value of 40 Wall St., Trump’s office tower in Manhattan’s financial district, increased by 13 per cent to $480 million as the market improved.
Office buildings have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the increase in asset prices that followed Trump’s 2016 election. Years of easy financing and low supply boosted the value of buildings in sought-after cities throughout the country. Trump’s office properties, including his stakes in the Vornado buildings, appreciated by $340 million over the past year.
Those gains offset declines in other parts of his portfolio. In addition to his golf courses, the value of Trump’s leasehold at 6 E. 57th St. in Manhattan, which previously housed a Niketown store, fell 9 per cent to $420 million as retail properties in the borough saw higher capitalization rates resulting from consumers’ increasing preference to shop online.
And Trump’s luxury residential building at 502 Park Ave., where his estranged longtime fixer, Michael Cohen, lived before he began serving a three-year prison term last month, is now worth $140 million, down 13 per cent from a year earlier, after the building’s condo owners had to offer steep discounts to prospective buyers.
Trump owes his lenders at least $550 million, according to his disclosures, property records and commercial mortgage data. The amount is roughly flat from a year earlier, after taking into account estimated loan payments and a new mortgage for a home in Florida that he purchased from his sister, retired federal appeals court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.
Trump’s $3 billion fortune doesn’t qualify him for Bloomberg’s list of the world’s 500 richest people, which bottoms out at about $4 billion. The collective wealth of that group has jumped 12 per cent to $5.39 trillion this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The president’s own estimates of his net worth often are higher than independent appraisals. They’re also elastic. When Trump announced his candidacy in 2015, his campaign said he was worth $8.7 billion. A Bloomberg assessment that year that pegged his wealth at $2.9 billion prompted him to dismiss the appraisal as “stupid.” He then said he was worth more than $10 billion.
Much of Trump’s own valuation of his net worth stems from what he calls his brand value, which he has said is as high as $4 billion, according to unaudited financial statements he has prepared for prospective business partners.
Trump’s net worth could be higher than estimated if he owns assets or has received payments that aren’t publicly known, or if he sells properties at values above market averages. It could be lower if he has undisclosed debts or partners, or if some companies for which full financial information is unavailable are less profitable than estimated.
The president’s decision to maintain his business while in public office broke with decades of tradition and prompted lawsuits alleging he’s violating the U.S. Constitution by selling services to governments in violation of the emoluments clauses. It also has invited his critics to accuse him of profiting from the presidency, a charge he rejected in October when he told Fox News Channel that being president has cost him billions of dollars.