The Art of Trump and Pump and Dump


Trump's valuations are extreme but, perhaps, directionally normal in New York real estate

I hate to say it but I fear the fraud trial of Donald Trump may well work to his political advantage.

Yes, I know that’s the politically incorrect thing to say.

But, having reported extensively on the ruthless world of New York real estate for my 2014 book The Liar’s Ball, sorry, I think people may struggle to get worked up about a civil case where the only possible real victims are (theoretically) lenders who’d be stupid enough to believe Trump’s hyperbole about the valuations of his real estate.

I gave a talk a couple weeks ago for a panel at The Real Deal, the industry must-read. And I noticed that the room really came awake when I talked about Harry Macklowe, the charismatic rogue who is the protagonist of The Liar’s Ball. And, when discussing Charles Kushner.

When I talked about Trump in the context of his real estate, I felt a slight ennui in the room.

That’s because as a self-aggrandizing real estate developer who is long on hype and short on facts and possibly principle, he’s not especially atypical. (For example, Harry Macklowe, who is beloved in the industry rather infamously knocked down a couple of buildings in the middle of the night while, it emerged, the gas was left on. He continued on, pretty much uninterrupted). In fact, you could argue that the real reason President Trump was atypical as a President was precisely because he continued to operate as a run-of-the-mill New York developer in charge of his family office.

Trump’s fantastical math is egregious, yes, but in the wheeling and dealing of New York City real estate, it’s actually commonplace for buildings to “grow” in valuations — perhaps not by the magnitude of Trump’s penthouse (which according to Judge Engoron’s ruling was multiplied threefold) — and it’s also commonplace to lie (hence the annual party’s nickname for itself: The Liar’s Ball).

Read on at Vicky Ward Investigates