Bankrupt Billionaire – Part IV

The following is an excellent excerpt from the book “LOST TYCOON: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump” by Harry Hurt III from Part Three: “Best Sex Ever Had” from Chapter 10: Bankrupt Billionaire” on page 335 and I quote: “On July 2, just five days after The Donald announces his deal with the banks, Ivana Trump boards the Concorde in New York and takes off for London.  It is her fourth trip to Europe in the past eight weeks.  As one of her top associates observes, “She treats going to Europe like it’s just around the corner.”  Ivana’s globe-trotting does not escape the notice of her admirers and her critics in the media.  She has cut a wide swath on her previous trips abroad.  This summer, in the wake of the worldwide tabloid coverage of the Trumps’ marital scandal, she creates an exceptional stir.

Instead of staying at a hotel, Ivana moves into the Eaton Square home of her friend Eva O’Neill.  A brassy, buxom thrice-married Austrian with three children, O’Neill reminds many acquaintances of the young Zsa Zsa Gabor.  London Daily Mail gossip columnist Nigel Dempster describes O’Neill, rather archly, as “a blonde woman of uncertain age who lives in the right part of town but is not prominent in any way.  Her friends have names like von Panz and Hohenlohe.”

Ivana’s association with O’Neill causes London socialites to wag their tongues in unkind ways.  The two of them dash about town in designer dresses and plumed hats, posing for photographs at such highfaluting events as the horse races at Ascot and the tennis matches at Wimbledon.  In between social engagements they take off for the fashion shows in Paris.  But their critics dismiss them as social-climbing parvenues.

At one point, after hosting a luncheon to promote the Plaza Hotel, Ivana allegedly shoulders her way into a receiving line to shake hands with the princess of Wales.  When Ivana passes through the line, Princess Di turns to a companion and exchanges disdainful glances.  Sir Humphry Wakefield, a titled socialite is later accused of committing a grievous faux pas when he invites the duchess of Northumberland and several other title holders to a dinner in Ivana’s honor.  “Humphry will pay for this!” sniffs one of Ivana’s nonplused dinner partners.

On July 8 Ivana flies back to New York and spends four of the next five days giving depositions to attorneys in her lawsuit against The Donald.  She remains in town the following week, while The Donald gives two days of depositions.  In subsequent sworn testimony he will invoke the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination more than seventy times, mostly in response to questions about his alleged affairs with other women, including Robin Givens, Catherine Oxenberg, Carol Alt, and Marla Ann Maples.

When the next weekend rolls around, Ivana hops aboard another jet bound for Paris, where she attends a dinner in her honor, scheduled two months in advance, at the Left Bank apartment of Emanuel Ungaro’s couture director, Catherine de Limur.  Up to now Ivana has been winning points with the press and the general public by playing the wife and mother wronged.  But her jaunty junkets back and forth to Europe make her seem like just another gold digger.  Rumors circulate about Paris that publisher John Fairchild has informed Ungaro that Ivana is passe.  When Ungaro arrives at Catherine de Limur’s party for Ivana, he reportedly behaves as if the guest of honor were not there.

Back in the States, gossip columnist William Norwich of the New York Daily News joins Ivana bashing with appointed critique of her trips to Europe.  Wondering aloud what the three little Trump children are doing for their summer vacation,” Norwich recalls the story of how Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt lost custody of her daughter, Gloria, because of indulging in “the sybaritic, globe-trotting life everyone rich led during the Great Depression.”  Norwich notes that Ivana “says these trips abroad are all about business” but warns that “a judge, the public or an irate husband may not see it that way someday.”  He later tells New York magazine writer Michael Gross, “I feel Ivana is living at risk.  There was too much Ivana.  It was too obvious.  Her commercial endeavors are a little hard for the stuck-ups on Park Avenue to swallow.”

Norwich’s remarks cut Ivana to the quick.  “Nothing upset her so much; it was the thing that hurt her the most,” one of her confidants recalls months later.  “She cried and cried over what he said about her and her children.”  Ivana is well aware of the subtext in Norwich’s comments.  He is, as she puts it, “Blaine’s man,” a steadfast promoter of her sister-in-law.  But unlike The Donald, Ivana does not hold a grudge.  Instead she starts thinking of ways to curry favor with Norwich so that she will receive more favorable mention in future columns.

In any event Ivana does not let the jealous backbiting slow her down.  She flies back from Paris on July 26 and stays just long enough to repack her bags and gather up her children.  On July 30 she takes off for Nice.  She spends the next two weeks in the south of France, mostly at a rented summer villa in St. Jean.  At night she attends parties given by the likes of socialite Lynn Wyatt, wife of controversial oilman Oscar Wyatt, who has chili and barbecue flown in from Texas about his private jet.

Ivana finally returns to New York on Sunday, August 12.  Four days later her husband celebrates the official publication date of his second book.

In the opening pages of Trump: Surviving at the Top, Donald dismisses any suggestion that he has been on the financial ropes, much less on the brink of bankruptcy.  “Over several weeks of very hard bargaining, my bankers and I worked out a terrific deal that allows me the time, the money, and the leeway to come out stronger than ever,” he declares, hastening to add, “I see the deal as a great victory–and eventually the rest of the world will too.”  But Donald does confess to contributing to the cause of his banking crisis, admitting, “I got caught up in the buying frenzy myself.”

In the style of his first book, Donald provides a list of rules for success.  But where The Art of the Deal contains no less than eleven such dicta, Surviving at the Top offers only six.  The most ironic of these is rule two: “Be honest–even if the world around you is often dishonest.”  The others, only slightly less ironic in their own right considering that he has recently violated each and every one of them, are: (1) “Be disciplined”; (3) “Don’t think you’re so smart you can go it alone”; (4) “Be reachable”; (5) “Stay close to home”; and (6) “Be flexible.”

Donald’s treatment of his affair with Marla Maples is similarly disingenuous.  He fails to address the question that is surely on every potential reader’s mind: Was it the “best sex” he or she ever had?  In fact, he mentions Marla by name only twice and both times in the same spare paragraph.  “Marla Maples, the beautiful young actress who bore the brunt of the hysterical publicity [about Trump’s marital woes], is a terrific person,” he writes, “but my relationship with her was not the cause of the trouble between Ivana and me.  Marla was an easy target because of her looks.  Yet if I’d never met her, Ivana and I would still be separated.”

Donald allows that he is at least somewhat to blame for causing a public scandal over the breakup of his marriage to Ivana.  “Ultimately, I have to confess, the way I handled the situation was a copout,” he admits.  “I never sat down calmly with Ivana to ‘talk it out,’ as I probably should have.”

Donald casts more venomous aspersions on his critics in the media, his business adversaries, and various alleged “phonies.”  The targets of his poison arrows include The New York Daily News columnist Liz Smith, Time correspondent Jeanne Mc Dowell, rival hotelier Leona Helmsley, rival casino hotelier Barron Hilton and the so-called Lucky Sperm Club of socialites with inherited wealth, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, and the late Malcolm Forbes, publisher of the magazine that exposed his precarious financial status back in the spring.

“. . . I gradually came to see [Malcolm Forbes] as a hypocrite who favored those who advertised in his magazine and tried, with surprising viciousness, to punish those who didn’t,” Donald writes.  “I saw a double standard in the way he lived openly as a homosexual–which he had every right to do–but expected the media and his famous friends to cover for him.  I can see it was only a matter of time before the family started using its magazine against me.”

Among the rare, unintentionally revealing passages in Trump: Surviving At the Top are those that mention the few people Donald claims to admire.  The most prominent female on the list is first Lady Barbara Bush, who wrote him a supportive note after she heard him “being attacked by Phil Donohue” in a TV interview.  But with the exception of this “classy lady,” Donald’s heroes are exclusively male: former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson, former business adversary Merv Griffin, controversial Saudi deal maker Adnan Khashoggi, Time Warner chief Steve Ross, Revlon boss Ron Perleman, and of course, the late Howard R. Hughes.  But Donald lavishes some of his greatest praise on former President Richard Nixon.
“I’ve seen some real killers in my line of work, but Richard Nixon makes them look like babies,” Donald gushes.  He clearly wants his readers to believe that he is cut from the same quarry as Nixon.  Indeed, his book bears more than passing similarities to Nixon’s best-selling memoir, Six Crises.

Almost immediately after Trump: Surviving at the Top arrives in the bookstores, Donald realizes that he is starting the battle for his financial survival all over again.  On August 15, 1990, the accounting firm of Kenneth Leventhal & Company sends a letter to Donald and his bankers marking the completion of the first ever comprehensive audit of the Trump holdings.  That in itself is headline news.  Over the past decade the nation’s largest and most prestigious financial institutions have been lending billions of dollars to Donald.  But until his recent cash-flow crisis, none of his banks or bondholders ever bothered to document all his assets and outstanding liabilities as they would for a home loan to an average customer.  Rather, they have been lending purely on the basis of the Trump name and public image, both of which are now considerably devalued.

The bottom line of the Leventhal report contains still more sensational revelations about Donald’s true financial condition.  Leventhal estimates that his net worth, assuming he sold all his properties over the long term for the maximum price, is no more than $500 million, or about what Forbes estimated back in the spring.  But according to the audit, if Donald is forced to sell his properties immediately, he will be worth less than zero.  At present liquidation value, his assets are so much lower than his total debts that he would actually have a negative net worth of $285 million.  In other words, the banks and bondholders have not only been lending to a self-made myth but been throwing their money down a bottomless pit.

The bad news about Donald spreads like wildfire.  On August 16 New Jersey gaming authorities urge him to “break up” and “sell off” at least some of his Atlantic City assets, which include the Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, The Trump Regency noncasino hotel, and the properties he bought from Penthouse.  According to a report by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, that is the only way Donald can avoid imminent financial collapse.  But that nonbinding recommendation is not one that he appreciates–or intends to follow.

Donald believes that his book Trump: Surviving at the Top can become, or at least contribute to becoming, a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Random House has reportedly scheduled a first printing of five hundred thousand copies and budgeted $1 million for promotion.  According to documents Donald submits to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, he anticipates net royalties to generate $1.1 million in cash.  He also anticipates that the book will restore his tattered public image.  Both hopes are quickly dashed.

ABC interviewer Barbara Walters hosts another segment about Donald on “20 / 20.”  But in contrast with the segment that followed the publication of Trump: The Art of the Deal, this is not purely a puff piece.  Like many of her colleagues in the media, Walters evidently believes that Donald has betrayed her with previous false promises and hyperbole.  She confronts him with a rumor that he deliberately allowed Trump Castle to miss its June bond payment in order to get better terms from the banks.  Donald will not comment.  When Donald declares that people are saying “[w]hat a great deal he made on the Plaza,” she rejoins, “No, they’re not.”

“You never say ‘I made mistakes.  Gee, I’m in trouble.  Things are bad,'” Walters observes.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” Donald replies.

“You haven’t said it,” Walters scolds.

“I make mistakes,” Donald finally acknowledges.

In an acrobatic leap of faith Walters somehow manages to conclude her segment on an upbeat note.  “Still, with all of his troubles, there’s something very disarming about Donald Trump, and he possesses both courage and daring,” she proclaims.  “Like him or not, the man is an original, determined to survive at the top.”

But despite Walters’s begrudging encomiums, the sales report on Trump: Surviving at the Top mirrors Donald’s own roller-coastering rise and demise.  The book debuts at number five on the New York Times best seller list.  The next week it shoots up to number one.  Over the next five weeks the book slides to number ten, bounces back to number one, then slips back down to number ten.  At the end of October it drops off the Times list for good.  Random House winds up selling an estimated 125,000 hardback copies.  Under ordinary circumstances, most publishers would consider that a substantial success.  But compared with The Art of the Deal, which has sold more than nine hundred thousand copies, Trump: Surviving at the Top is an unmitigated flop.  The public simply is not buying Donald J. Trump–or his books–any longer.

Neither are the mass media.  Marie Brenner sets the pace for the new pack of Trump bashers in an article entitled “After the Gold Rush” in the September 1990 issue of Vanity Fair.  She reveals that Donald is known to have received a book of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches entitled My New Order.  The similarities between Hitler’s big lie propaganda and Donald’s big lies are striking.  “Do people really think I am in trouble?” he asks incredulously during his interview with Brenner.

“Yes,” Brenner replies, “they think you’re finished.”

“Just wait five years,” Donald parries.  “This is really a no-brainer.  Just like the Merv Griffin deal.  When I took him to the cleaners, people wanted me to lose.  They said, ‘Holy shit! Trump got taken!’ Let me tell you something.  It’s good to be thought of as poor right now.  You wouldn’t believe some of the deals I’m making!  I guess I have a perverse personality. . . . I’ve really enjoyed the past few weeks.”

It is hard for anyone but Donald himself to see how or why.  Having recently restructured his $2.1 billion in bank debts, he now wants to restructure the $1.3 billion in junk bond debt on his Atlantic City casinos.  But a group of Taj Mahal building contractors is demanding payment on $35 million in past-due bills, and a group of Taj Mahal bondholders is organizing opposition to Donald’s restructuring plans.  In November the Taj bondholders will be owed a scheduled interest payment of $47 million.  When Donald indicates that he will not be able to make the payment out of the casino’s cash flow, the bondholders vow to take legal action.

Donald’s fate is no longer entirely in his own hands.  Shortly before the publication of the Vanity Fair piece, he was obliged to hire a chief financial officer as he promised the banks.  The new Trump CFO is forty-seven-year-old Stephen F. Bollenbach, a gray-bearded veteran of the restructuring or dismantling of several once-prosperous corporate empires, including those of Daniel K. Ludwig, Marriott and Holiday Inns.  Bollenbach, who is reportedly being paid a salary of $1 million per year, has a mandate from the banks.  His job is to sell off as many Trump properties as he can, specifically the Trump Princess, the Trump Shuttle, and the Plaza Hotel.  That task will not be made any easier in light of the fact that veteran real estate executive Blanche Sprague, whom Donald described in his first book as “one of the best salespeople and managers I’ve ever met,” has just left the Trump Organization in a dispute over salary and commission cuts.

The myth is that if the economy improves, the fortunes of Donald J. Trump will improve accordingly.  In fact, the reverse is true.  As long as the economy remains mired in recession, Donald will be able to maintain at least nominal ownership of his assets simply because they will not fetch prices high enough to satisfy his creditors.

Whether he acknowledges it or not, Donald is truly caught between the horns of an inescapable dilemma.  The time he has bought through restructuring his bank debt is working on behalf of his creditors rather than on behalf of his own personal ambitions to survive at the top.  To make matters worse, there is yet another dark cloud on Donald’s horizon that threatens both his own future and that of his creditors; his still-unresolved legal battle against Ivana.”


LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran


About tim074

I'm a retired dairy farmer that was a member of the National Farmer's Organization (NFO). Before going farming, I spent 4 years in the United States Air Force where I saved up enough money to get my down payment to go farming. I also enjoy writing and reading biographies and I write about myself as well as articles and excerpts I find interesting. I'm specifically interested in finances, particularly in the banking industry because if it wasn't for help from my local Community Bank, I never could have started farming which I was successful at. So, I'm real interested in the Small Business Administration and I know they are the ones creating jobs. I have been a member of Common Cause and am now a member of Public Citizen as well as AARP. I have, in the past, written over 150 articles on the Obama Blog ( and I'd like to tie these two sites together. I'm also on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook and find these outlets terrifically interesting particularly what many of these people did concerning the uprising in the Arab world. I believe this is a smaller world than we think it is and my goal is to try to bring people together to live in peace because management needs labor like labor needs management. Up to now, that hasn't been so easy to find.
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