By Mary Papenfuss
U.S President Donald Trump has an inflated view of his assets. The president’s family business is worth about one-tenth of the value he has claimed, according to an analysis of the latest figures he has filed with the federal government.
Some of the discrepancy is due to a downturn in business, but the rest is credited to an overheated imagination, according to Crain’s New York Business reporter Aaron Elstein, who examined the numbers.
Elstein told NPR he feels a bit like he was played.
In 2016 the Trump Organization reported nearly $9.5 billion in sales. But recent public filings by the president indicate that the company’s actual revenue that year was only as much as $700 million, Crain’s said.
Crain’s determined Trump has been reporting inflated revenue since at least 2010. After examining the latest figures Trump has filed, Crain’s this month bounced the Trump Organization from the No. 3 spot on its list of largest privately held New York City companies down to No. 40.
“It was obviously very important to Donald to have his company on the top of the list … but the numbers that he presented are just flagrantly untrue,” Elstein told NPR. Crain’s said the $9.5 billion in revenue looks “preposterous in light of federal filings made by the president in the past year.”
Trump’s properties aren’t doing so well, even though it’s “halcyon days” for real estate developers, according to Crain’s. Not only are the Trump Organization’s plans to develop a Scion hotel in Manhattan apparently dead in the water, but “prices are slumping for condos at Trump Tower and the Trump International Hotel and Tower,” Crain’s said.
The average price per square foot for condos at Trump Tower has fallen by 23 percent since 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported, while prices at other midtown developments have remained steady. At Trump’s International Hotel and Tower on Central Park, the average price per square foot is down 24 percent.
And revenue is down on the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx, falling by more than $1.1 million in the past two years, to $5.7 million, Crain’s reported.
Trump also toppled on another list, down an astonishing 92 places (to No. 248), in Forbes’ rankings of richest men in America. But Trump remains a billionaire on the Forbes list, where he clocks in at $3.1 billion in total assets. He also took a dive on Bloomberg’s Billionaires index, but is credited with still having a total $2.9 billion in assets, as far as Bloomberg knows.
In 2015 Trump boasted: “My massive net worth is in excess of $10 billion.”
Net worth is a subjective “feeling,” Trump said in a 2006 deposition when he sued author Timothy O’Brien, who wrote Trump Nation, a book that was critical of him. “My net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings,” he said then.
Since Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, as presidents typically do, his income and information about holdings is murky.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is currently suing Trump for failing to put his business interests into a blind trust.