Which Is Faker, Trump’s Tan Or His Real Estate Valuations?

(Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Picture it: Manhattan, 2012. The Trump Organization owns a 70-story high rise office building in the Financial District. Is it worth $527 million? Or is the real value $16.7 million?

Or, could it be … neither?

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As the Washington Post reports this morning, the former president’s eponymous company came up with wildly different numbers in 2012 for its signature New York property, depending on whether it was seeking a loan or trying to keep its tax assessment as low as possible. And the Manhattan District Attorney is hot on the trail.

For years there were rumors that New York prosecutors were investigating the Trump Organization’s real estate valuations. Then Boy Wonder Eric Trump gave NYAG Tish James a golden opportunity to confirm it publicly, thanks to his doomed efforts to duck a subpoena. In a motion to compel his testimony in August 2020, James explained that her office was looking into discrepancies in real estate valuations supplied by the former president’s eponymous company.

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In short, Trump’s business seemed to have been concocting numbers out of thin air, depending on whether or was trying to secure a loan or minimize tax liability.

The motion specifically described a 213-acre parcel in Westchester County which the Trump Organization spent two decades trying to subdivide for development, before tapping out in 2016 and donating the undeveloped portion of the parcel for a conservation easement. In 2012 when he was trying to buy the Buffalo Bills, Trump valued the plot, known as Seven Springs, at $291 million. But in 2015 Cushman Wakefield appraised it at $56 million, reflecting its potential for future development.

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Except there was no potential for development, as Trump had spent 20 years finding out. So Cushman Wakefield’s $21 million valuation on the 158-acre conservation easement raised some eyebrows, particularly since the tax assessment for the entire plot including the mansion was only $19 million.

Before she joined forces with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., James’s office was duking it out in court with the Trump Org. and its counsel Morgan Lewis over communications with the appraisers, which the lawyers insist was attorney-client privileged. And according to the Post, this investigation into hinky valuations has only expanded now that this is a DA/AG joint.

Not only are prosecutors looking at 40 Wall Street and Seven Springs, their inquiry now includes a golf course in the Los Angeles suburbs located on land with a history of landslides. Because go home, writers, you are still drunk.

In 1999, when somebody else owned the course, a 2,000-foot slide pulled the 18th hole into the ocean. After Trump bought the land in 2002, he sought to make extra money by building homes along the course — but city officials blocked those plans in one section of the course, saying a layer of slippery ash inside the cliffs made it vulnerable to slide again.

Darn you, city officials!

According to the Post, the Trump Organization valued the 17-acre plot at $967,000 in a 2013 declaration to the tax assessor. But the next year it sought a conservation easement for the same land, valuing it at $21 million.

You will never guess which company supplied that $21 million appraisal.

LOL, just kidding, it was Cushman Wakefield again.

And that’s how the Manhattan District Attorney wound up investigating California geological surveys. Which is either a long overdue look at the way American oligarchs lie and cheat with impunity or the “weaponization of political prosecutors” which is “eroding Americans’ confidence in the legal system and it has to stop,” depending on whether you ask a normal person or Eric Trump, who is still flapping his yap.

Keep talking, li’l buddy, it’s totally helping.

N.Y. prosecutors set sights on new Trump target: Widely different valuations on the same properties [WaPo]

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.


Cy Vance, Donald Trump, Government

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Originally posted on: https://abovethelaw.com/2021/11/which-is-faker-trumps-tan-or-his-real-estate-valuations/