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Former President Donald Trump and his adult children have been sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly dramatically overvaluing the former president’s net worth — with his portfolio of real estate holding allegedly playing a key role.
The lawsuit was announced by James on Monday in Manhattan, following a years-long investigation by her office into the Trump Organization. While other defendants are named in the civil suit, his children being sued include Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump.
“For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them. Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct,” James said in a statement.
James alleges that the scheme was intended to boost Trump’s image as a successful billionaire around the world and to help convince banks to give him beneficial loan terms. Trump has called the suit “another witch hunt.”
Here’s a look at five of the properties Trump is accused of overvaluing:
The value of the Upper East Side building fluctuated between $90.9 million and $350 million from 2011 and 2021, according to the lawsuit.
The lion’s share of the properties’ value is represented by unsold condominium units. The lawsuit accuses the Trump Organization of publicly reporting values of the condos that were much higher than the internal figures used when discussing them, which also failed to account for many of the units being rent stabilized.
A 2010 appraisal by an independent bank valued the 12 rent-stabilized units at $750,000 total, according to the lawsuit. However, statements made by the real estate company in 2011 and 2012 valued the units at the market rate of nearly $50 million.
The suit accuses Trump of using objectively false numbers to determine the value of this property. It cites the example of Trump’s own triplex apartment at Trump Tower, which was valued at 30,000 square feet when it was, in fact, only 10,996 square feet, the suit alleges.
As a result, the apartment was valued at $327 million in 2015 or $29,738 per square foot.
“That price was absurd given the fact that at that point only one apartment in New York City had ever sold for even $100 million, at a price per square foot of less than $10,000, and that sale was in a newly built, ultra-tall tower,” reads a press release from the AG’s office.
In 2015, the most expensive apartment ever sold in Trump Tower went for $16.5 million at $4,500 per square foot.
Trump’s beachfront resort, which has become his primary residence post-presidency, made annual revenues of $25 million and should have been valued at $75 million, James said.
Instead, the company said the club was valued at $739 million, according to the suit.
The valuation was based on the premise that the property was unrestricted and could be developed for any purpose — when in reality, Trump himself signed a deed donating his residential development rights and restricting the land’s use to that of a social club only.
The value of all three of Trump’s clubs — Mar-a-Lago, Trump Aberdeen and Trump National Golf Club — was also listed as one combined figure on statements of financial condition, which the lawsuit says was intentional as to obscure the individual value of each club.
Trump Aberdeen, in Aberdeen, Scotland, was valued at $327 million in a 2014 statement of financial condition, based on the assertion that 2,500 homes could be developed on its land.
In fact, the suit contends, the Trump Organization only had zoning approval for 1,500 cottages and apartments, many of which could legally only be used for short-term rentals.
Those 2,500 accounted for 80 percent of the total valuation, according to the AG.
Trump purchased this golf club in Jupiter, Florida for $5 million. Less than a year later in 2013, he valued the same property at a 1,100 percent markup of $62 million, the suit claims.
The suit lays out the multiple pathways the company allegedly took to inflate the club’s value, including Trump claiming he paid $46 million for the club by adding on $41 million in assumed membership liabilities to the $5 million he actually paid and overstating the value of the club by adding 30 percent to its value because it was a Trump-branded club.