The deal was extremely shady.
Trump just sold off his Beverly Hills mansion for a cool $13.5 million, or $6.5 million more than he paid for it in 2007.
How did he book such a huge profit? By selling it to a business partner who was doing Trump a favor, of course.
Trump had been hanging on to his 5,400 square foot mansion in California, but he didn't use the property much. Even though he rarely stayed there, he decided to build six-foot hedges — in violation of the city code — to "protect" him if he ever did.
According to Eric Trump, "it simply made sense to sell" the property given its lack of use. It also may have made sense to sell because Trump had a willing business partner happy to pay way above market value for the property.
The Washington Post reports that the purchaser was Hillcrest Asia, Ltd., a company that links back to Hary Tanoesoedibjo, an Indonesian billionaire. He's partnered with Trump for two projects in Indonesia that will be worth over $500 million when they're done, which means that spending a few million over list price for one of Trump's underused mansions is no big deal.
Tanoesoedibjo also attended Trump’s inauguration and swung by Trump's hotel in D.C. to take some pictures with Eric and Lara Trump.
Many things about this real estate deal were sketchy. First, the property was sold "off-market," which means that it wasn't listed for sale anywhere publicly. Next, Trump realized a 93% profit for a property he only held for 12 years. Other real estate in the area has gone up about 52% in the same period.
And then there's the fact that Trump's attorneys argued to the county assessor in 2016 that the property was only worth $6 million. Somehow, in just three short years, it more than doubled in price.
Of course, we've seen this sort of money manipulation from Trump before. Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, testified before Congress that Trump would routinely inflate the value of his assets when he wanted to get a loan and deflate them when he wanted to evade real estate taxes.
Tanoesoedibjo, Trump's business partner, said that Trump is an inspiration to him and that he may run for president of Indonesia. There's no doubt he'll have Trump's backing if he does — and all it cost him was a few million dollars.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.