IT IS NOT YET 9 AM SPENDING A DAY WITH Donald Trump is like driving a Ferrari without the windshield. It’s exhilarating; he gets a few bugs in his teeth.
His next appointment is with Philip Johnson and John Burgee, the eminent architects. ‘These guys are hot,’ Mr. Trump declares as he breezes into their office. Models are brought in of Mr. Trump’s next – can it be! – the proposed building, a 60-story castle, Trump Castle, six cylinders of varying heights with gold-leafed, coned and crenelated tops to be built at 60th Street and Madison Avenue. There is to be a moat and a drawbridge. ‘My idea,’ says Mr. Johnson with a mischievous grin. ‘Very Trumpish.’
‘Trump is mad and wonderful,’ says Mr. Johnson. The 77-year-old architect proclaimed the castle his ‘most exciting project’ ever. ‘Other developers come in with sober faces, carrying their market-research studies on what the public will like.’
The combination of Mr. Johnson, who is leading the architectural charge out of the era of glass box modernism with such unusual buildings as the ‘Chippendale’-topped A.T.&T. building, and Donald Trump, who is excited about putting up the most distinctive buildings imaginable, seems positively dangerous. One can almost imagine this: ‘Phil, I’d like to build a 135-story cheeseburger on Park Avenue.’ ‘Lettuce and tomato on that, Don?’
With castles on the drawing boards, the first tenants are moving into Mr. Trump’s $125 million Trump Plaza luxury cooperative apartment building at Third Avenue and 61st. Street. His Generals are off to a winning start in their first season under his ownership. He is hovering attentively over his newly operned Xanadu of conspicuous consumption, the $200 million Trump Tower condominium-office-retail complex on Fifth Avenue, also supervising the final touches on Harrah’s at Trump Plaza, a mammoth $220 million casino-hotel in Atlantic City set to open next month.
Just as the name Donald Trump is well-known to most New Yorkers, the name is now becoming recognized throughout the country. He is fast becoming one of the nation’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, able to buy practically anthing he wants. He controls a company with assets estimated – some say conservatively estimated – $1 billion, and casino-industry analysts say his half interest in Harrah’s may provide him with $40 million to $50 million more in annual income.
Although he is still interested in such ideas as putting up the world’s tallest building on the East River, his mind wanders from the business of New York real estate. The Generals were an impulse buy. He made a bid on The New York Daily News in 1982, when the paper’s fate was in doubt; he expressed interest in buying the Cleveland Indians. He has told people in the communications industry that he is ‘very interested in communications,’ which is like a 2,000-pound gorilla mentioning that he is very interested in becoming carnivorous. Until recently, he was purchasing large amounts of RCA stock, with an eye toward securing a controlling interest, but he gave up on that when the price of the stock more than doubled. He sold the stock, profiting handsomely from the failed takeover.
NEXT ON MR. TRUMP’S SCHEDULE IS A visit Trump Plaza on Third Avenue. The heads of several Fortune 500 companies have already bought co-ops here, along with Gov. John Y. Brown of Kentucky and his wife, Phyllis George; Martina Navratilova and Dick Clark.
While critics charge that Mr. Trump is a raving egomaniac, bent on putting his name on every inanimate project in the city, he claims that putting on the Trump name is value added.
‘These units are selling,’ says Blanche Sprague, who is in charge of sales at Trump Plaza, ‘because of the Trump name.’ A man holding a trowel says he is proud to be working on a Trump building and always tells his friends.
‘I don’t think you understand,’ Mrs. Sprague adds. ‘When I walk down the street with Donald, people come up and just touch him, hoping that his good fortune will rub off.’
The Trump touch. It has set some people in New York to outright Trump worship; they call him ‘a real-estate genius’ who has helped lead the city out of the darkness of the mid-1970’s into a new era of glamour and excitement. Mr. Trump does not take exception to that.
To others, the notion that Mr. Trump seems to be able to do just about anything he sets his mind to is terrifying. They see him as a rogue billionaire, loose in the city like some sort of movie monster, unrestrained by the bounds of good taste or by city officials to whom he makes campaign contributions, ready to transform Midtown into another glass-and-glitz downtown Houston, with Central park for parking.
This faction believes that the Donald Trumps of this world are tending to have their way with our cities nationwide, receiving enormous tax abatements and whatever zoning variations they request – all in the name of revitalization. That government is helping rich developers to become richer does not sit well with them, not when small shopkeepers, who do not share in such government largesse, are forced out of business by rising rents, not when poor people are sleeping in the streets. That Mr. Trump builds shops and apartments for the world’s wealthiest people makes him that much more prone to attack.
Yet many urban-affairs experts view the developers as saviors of our postindustrial cities. ‘With manufacturing leaving,’ says George Sternlieb, director of the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University, ‘anmd with Federal and state aid diminishing, our cities desperately need the rich. Cities are tending to fall into two categories: cities of consumption and cities with no economic base.’
The rich of the world can live anywhere they want, explain the experts; Mr. Trump leads them to New York. Sales taxes, user taxes, jobs and resulting payroll taxes are generated.
‘The wheelers and dealers must be successful if New York is to be successful,’ says Mr. Sternlieb. ‘That doesn’t make them lovable.’ Mayor Koch says that, indeed, what is good for Donald Trump is often good for New York.
Of course, Midtown is perhaps the strongest real-estate market in the world. ‘It is, therefore, appropriate in this case,’ says Bernard Frieden, professor of city planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ‘for residents to ask if developers are being subsidized excessively.’
Mr. Trump and other developers respond that they are far from having their way with our cities. Mr. Trump notes that he was denied a tax abatement worth $15 million to $20 million on Trump Tower. Other de3velopers claim that it has never been more difficult to build in New York, what with planning boards, community boards, restrictive codes and regulations.
TALE OT FRANK! SHOUTS A WOMAN, wrapping her arms around one of the Trump Tower doormen. C’mon and take it, honey, take it! Finally, Frank does take it, a snapshot of his wife Melody, with a man who says he was hired to open doors – albeit revolving doors – at Trump Tower but who has shown up for work dressed to guard Buckingham Palace: red military coat, gold braid, black bearskin hat, the works.
Alighting from his limousine – license plates DJT – Mr. Trump admits there are those who consider his doormen ostentatious. But he probably suspects Trump Tower has never been walked past unnoticed.
Having just opened last year, Trump Tower is already becoming something of a New York landmark. The shimmering glass skyscraper rises above its understated neighbors on Fifth Avenue, upstaging even Tiffany, next door.
It is home to shops so exclusive Melody said she couldn’t even brag about seeing them because nobody back home had ever heard of the likes of Mondi, Fila, Amazoni, Botticellino, Buccellati. It all sounded like last night’s dinner at Mamma Leone’s to her. Johnny Carson, Sophia Loren and Steven Spielberg are among the notables who have purchased Trump Tower condominiums, which, with prices ranging from $550,000 to $10 million, are among the most expensive in New York.
All that is Donald Trump would seem to be embodied in this building. It is showy, even pretentious. Above the door are bronze letters two feet high that spell ‘Trump Tower.’ Just inside, past the palace guards, are two three-foot bronze T’s. Then comes the piano player and violinist, dressed in tuxedos. That’s entertainment.
‘I told Donald I hate all that stuff,’ says Philip Johnson, ‘but people like the show. It is undeniably one of the most popular buildings in New York.’ And these adornments would seem to be just the fuzzy pair of dice on the rear-view mirror of the Rolls-Royce. Architecture critics have hailed Trump Tower, Ada Louise Huxtable calling it ‘a dramatically handsome structure’ and Paul Goldberger describing its interior as ‘warm, luxurious and even exhilarating.’
That Mr. Trump was able to obtain the location, when every real-estate developer in the world would have done just about anything to get it, is testimony to Donald Trump’s persistence and to his skills as a negotiator. That he was able to put up a building of this dimension on this site demonstrates his finesse with the zoning code.
When he first proposed buying the site, occupied by Bonwit Teller and owned by the Equitable Life Assurance Company, he found that there are 29 more years on the lease. He called Genesco Inc., owner of Bonwit’s, for eight years, asking to buy the lease. ‘They literally laughed at me,’ Mr. Trump recalls. Learning through a major stockholder that the conglomerate was cash-hungry, Mr. Trump called again and was sold the lease.
‘He has the uncanny ability to smell blood in the water,’ a competitor says. He obtained the air rights over Tiffany, which allowed him to build a much higher building, and went to Equitable, which sold him the land for a 50 percent interest in the project. Typically, Mr. Trump did not syndicate the deal but took in one major partner, in this case Equitable.
As is his custom, Mr. Trump shoudl reap millions of dollars from the project through sale of the condominiums and rent from the stores and 13 floors of offices.
Several New York merchants question how stores in Trump Tower can survive paying the high rents they are charged – the Charles Jourdan shoe store, for example, pays $1 million a year – and a few of the 48 stores have said they are in trouble. Several other merchants are expanding, and Mr. Trump claims that 100 stores are waiting to get in.
Trump Tower represents his guiding principle: Spend whatever it takes to buid the est. Them, let people know about it. In New York, there is no limit to how much money people will spend for the very best, not second best, the very best.
Mr. Trump sums up Trump Tower this way: The finest apartments in the top building in the best location in the hottest city in the world. This is Trump-speak. Mr. Trump has said that Trump Tower is for the ‘world’s best people,’ and one who doubts his modesty commented that by way of proving it, Mr. Trump was moving in himself. The Trups recently had their third child, and the growing family will soon settle in a $10 million triplex penthouse.
The real-estate market is Mr. Trump’s thermometer for gauing just how ‘hot’ a city is. ‘New York is, right now, perhaps the hottest city ever,’ he says. Recalling recent years when Paris, London, Los Angeles and Chicago had been hot, ‘at some point, real estate here will have to go down, but that point is not in sight. One element that makes the market stronger here than in other U.S. cities is the Europeans, South Americans and others.’
Arriving in his office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, Donald Trump is handed a sprial notebook by his secretary, Norma I. Foerderer, that lists about 50 telephone calsshe has received this morning that she deems worth mentioning. ‘It’s carzy,’ he remarks. ‘People are coming to me now because I have credibility.’ He says he senses it is ephemeral. He is seizing the moment.
Mrs. Foerderer and a few others guard the ramparts, beating back dozens, sometime hundreds, of callers each day who would like to throw in with Mr. Trump n a variety of deals. Visitors are treaed to a slide show on Trump Tower while they wait – with superlatives by The Trump Organization and vocal accompaniment by Frank Sinatra. In their efforts to get through to Mr. Trump, some of the visitors tell Mrs. Foerderer they are old buddies of his, others bring candy and flowers. They want to propose marriage to Mr. Trump or to put a tank of dolphins in the lobby or have him back a Hollywood film or do a television series about rich people living in Trump Tower or sell him some oil wells in Oklahoma or some land in Ankara or ask if he would be interested in a plan to bulldoze Ellis Island to build a nice golf course and clubhouse out there. Some people try to make it simple for him and just ask for cash. The day before he has sent $3,000 to an unfortunate family he has red about in the newspaper, something he does frequently, according to Mrs. Foerderer.
For a billion-dollar corporation, there aren’t too many people around. Mr. Trump runs The Trump Organization, which includes several companies that buy, sell and develop land, own land and buildings, and a company, now inactive, that bought and sold gold, which, Mr. Trump confirmed, reaped him a $32 million profit. Mr. Trump owns all of these. He is a 50-50 partner in companies that own the Gran Hyatt hotel, Trump Tower and Harrah’s at Trump Plaza. He owns 90 percent of the Trump Plaza cooperative building partnership. The Trump family owns 25,000 apartment units primarily in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island – the empire that Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump’s father, built. The elder Mr. Trump looks after these apartments from an office at the rear of an apartment building at 600 Avenue Z in Brooklyn.
Fred Trump’s empire, which he built from scratch, had an estimated value of $40 million when Donal joined the business 16 years ago. Donald’s brother, Robert, is an executive vice president of the organization. (An older brother, Fred Jr., died several years ago.) His two sisters are Maryanne Trump Barry, a Federal Distict Court judge in Trenton, and Elizabeth J. Trump, a secretary at the Chase Manhattan Bank. They were raised in a 23-room house in Jamaica Estates. The family is of Swedish descent.
Donald Trump makes or approves practically all decisions. Although there is a board room, there is no board. At the moment, he is telling a doorman on the other end of the telephone not to put that tacky runner down on the eautiful marble floor when it rains. He does not seem to write anything down, keeping volumes of company files as mental notes.
Mr. Trump’s wife, Ivana, is also an executive vice president of the company and has an office next door to her husband’s. She is a former fashion model – ‘a top model,’ in Mr. Trump’s words – who was married to Donald Trump seven years ago by the family’s minister, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale.
Ivana Trump, mother of three, retains her model’s figure and glamour at age 35. Designers and manufacturers of perfume, jewelry, dresses nad panty hose have proposed naming product lis after her and using her in advertisements. She says she is not interested. She works 10 hour days at the office, handles a heavy social calendar and does most of the cooking for the family. Without trying to arouse undue sentiment against her, it shoud also be added that she is a top-flight skier, an alternate on the 1972 Czechoslovak Olympic team.
She speaks with a thick accent that only seems to add to her allure. ‘Cowboys?’ she says, her eyes brightening and her voice rising, as it does when she talks about most anything. ‘We don’t want Cowboys! Where can we go with Cowboys?’ She was explaining why her husband bought the New Jersey Generals instead of the Dallas Cowboys. Says Louise M. Sunshine, another executive vice president: ‘If it is not the impossible, Donald is simply not interested. There has to be creativity. Money ceased to be the object a long time ago.’ Mr. Trump agrees with this assessment.
Mrs. Trump acts as interior designer for his projects, in concert with other designers. she and Mr. Trump make thousands of decisins, from picking all the wallpapers, curtain backings and braid for the doormen’s uniforms to menus and doorknobs. Their selections seem based on galvanic skin response. They want the bathmats for Harrah’s to add a measure of excitement.
Mrs. Trump spent a week at a quarry in Italy matching slabs of the distinctive, peach rose and pink Breccia Perniche marble for the atrium of Trump Tower. Some people criticize ‘that pink marble’ and Mrs. Trump responds: ‘And what do they prefer? The cheap white travertine that is used in baks and all the other buildings? It is too cold, too common. Donald and I are more daring than that.’ When people criticize the Trump Tower doormen’s uniforms, she ansers: ‘They are fun. Why must everyone be so serious?’
The couple’s attention to detail is exceptional. Workmen at the Trump Plaza say that ona recent visit, Mr. Trump spotted a hairline crack that others could barely detect in a bathroom of one of the 140 cooperative apartments. He not only complained but stood there until a work crew came and replaced the marble.
Another worker at the site recalled that Mrs. Trump had an entire elevator cab replaced rather than have a small gap filled where the trim failed to meet the elevator wall. The construction manager of the Atlantic City project, Tom Pippett, said, when Mrs. Trump gave birth to the couple’s third child, ‘We hoped to get her off our backs for a least a month or so.’ But she delivered the baby on a Friday and returned to work the next Tuesday.
Irving R Fischer, chairman of the board of HRH Construction Corporation, one of New York City’s largest, and construction manager of Trump Tower, recalls mrs. Trump’s decision that the handrails ont he balconies at Trump Plaza were the wrong color. ‘He saw a gold Cadillac down the block,’ he says, ‘and yelled, ‘That’s the color!’ We had to go out and buy goddamned Cadillac paint for the railings. These are things no other developer in the city ever thnks about. They leave it to architects and decorators.’
After lunch in the Trump Tower atrium restaurant – ‘have a roll, these are the best rolls in the city’ – Mr. Trump walks up to the Sherry-Netherland Hotel for talks, through an interpreter, with a group of Argentines. They are principal owners of 76 acres on the West Side, the largest single piece of undeveloped private property remaining in Manhattan, site of the proposed Lincoln West development. Although partners in the development say Mr. Trump is considering joining them in the project, a knowledgeable source says Mr. Trump left the meeting with an option to buy thm out entirely.
‘He is an almost unbelievable negotiator,’ says Irving Fischer of HRH Construction. ‘I don’t worship at the shrine of Donald Trump,’ he says, ‘but our company has given up trying to negotiate costs with him. We just say: ‘Tell us what you want, you’re going to get it anyway.”
Mr. Trump refuses to dicuss his deals publicly, but his negotiating abilities were there for all to see recently when he decided to sign the Giant’s all-pro linebacker, Lawrence Taylor. Before the negotiating was over, Mr. Taylor’s agent found himself paying Mr. Trump $750,000 in cash to get his player released from a contract he signed with the Fenerals so that he could re-sign with the Giants, and Mr. Trump had reaped millins of dollars of free publicity for having gone after one of the best players in football.
Three years ago, Mr. Trump went into a room with the owners of the Barbizon Plaza Hotel and an adjacent apartment buiding, purchased the property for about $13 million, according to records, and less than two months later took out a mortgage on it for $65 million. Sources in the industry say the value of hat parcel on Central Park South may now be as much as $125 million.
‘Trump can sense whn people might want to get ot of a project,’ says a developer, ‘and he moves in, very quickly and very quietly so others will not get into the biddig and drive the price up. He trusts his instincts and has theguts to act on them.’
Roy M. Cohn, Mr. Trump’s friend and attorney, adds: ‘He has an uncanny sense of knowing that something is a good deal when it looks dismal to everyone else.’
Such was his first deal in Manhattan, his purchase of the Commodore Hotel on East 42nd Street in the mdid-1970’s, when even the Chrysler Building across the street was in foreclosure. Fred Trump described his son’s efforts to buy the hotel as ‘fighting for a seat on the Titanic.’ But, Donald Trump says, ‘I saw all those people coming out of Grand Central Terminal, and I said to myself, ‘How bad can this be?” He completely renovated the hotel, reopening it as the chrome-and-glass Grand Hyatt Hotel.
In Atlantic City, he invested $1 million in land and other costs before the referendum on gambling was passed in 1976. By the early 1980’s, his investment was $22 million. ‘Everyone said stay away from Atlantic City,’ Mr. Trump says. ‘Everybody but about four guys. I wa one of the four.’
According to sources in Atlantic City familiar with the deal, Harrah’s paid Mr. Trup $50 million in the casino hotel, which Mr. Trump already had under construction. Harrah’s put up an additional $170 million in fiancing, agreed to charge Mr. Trump no managing fee and has guaranteed him no financial losses in any year.
He had moved in quietly, sending 14 different people to purchase 15 parcels of land and keeping his name out of it. ‘If the seller was Italian,’ says Mr. Trump, ‘we sent an Italian’ – something he probably did not learn at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, where he received a B.A. in economics in 1968. He bought and sold a few pieces of real estate in Philadelphia when he was bored with classes.
‘It’s in his genes,’ says Fred Trump, explaining his son’s success in real estate and recalling his three sons growing up on construction sites and in rental offices.
‘Donald Trump is the Michael Jackson of real estate,’ says Mr. Fischer. ‘We’ve been dealing with him since he was 16. He was an old trouper at age 25.’
His success also derives from his marketing skills. ‘I want to bring a little showmanship to real estate,’ Mr. Trumps says. He is often compared to the late William Zeckendorf, the renowned New York builder, who was said to owe much of his success to his personal flair. Other New York developers – including the Lefraks, the Rudins, te Tishmans, the Fishers, the Roses – go quietly about building more buildings than does Donal Trump, making their millions and keeping their names out of things.
Some developers find Mr. Trump’s high-profile approach disagreeable, but most concede that it has worked for him.
Preston Robert Tisch, a developer and chief operating officer of the Loews Corporation, who lost out to Mr. Trump in the battle over whose site would be chosen for the city’s convention cneter, concludes: ‘He captured the imagination of people to a greater degree than I could.’
The condominiums in Trump Tower are selling rapdily at what many believe are exorbitant prices, while less costly units in Museum Tower, for example, another ‘superluxury’ building a few blocks away, are not. According to a marketing study of four such buildings made by the rudential Insurance Company of America, Donald Trump seems to be the only person in New York who knows how to market superluxury apartments. How do you sell a one-bedroom apartment costin as much as a line item in the Department of Defense budget? ‘You sell them a fantasy,’ Mr. Trump explains. ‘He deserves full credit for his success,’ says another builder. ‘He spent $1 million on the waterfall in Trump Tower. No one else would have done that. If the building fails everyone will say: ‘Well sure, what jackass spends a million bucks on a waterfall?”
‘What sets Trump apart,’ says Ben V. Lambert, a real-estate investment banker, ‘is his ability to pierce through the canvas and get things don.He gets projects literally off the ground while others are having meetings and doing feasibility studies. But his real skill is putting together complex pieces of the puzzles: financing, zoning, parcels of land and such. This ethereal part of building is perhaps more important than the brick and mortar.’
Some have said that his father’s money and political contacts with the Brooklyn Democratic organization, which produced former Mayor Abraham D. Beame and former Gov. Hugh L. Carey, are an important part of Donald Trump’s success formula. To be sure, they played a part in his gaining a foothold in Manhattan real estate a decade ago. ‘It’s good to know people,’ Fred Trump told his son. Henry J. Stern, the Parks Commissioner who wa then a City ouncil memer, sharply criticzed the tax abatement Mr. Trump received – the first ever for a commercial developer – on the Grand Hyatt Hotel project. ‘Donald Trump runs with the same clique that continues to manipulate things behind the scenes in this city,’ Mr. Stern then charged.
In retrospect, Mr. Stern now says: ‘The tax abatement was a good thing. It made it possible for Donald Trump to take a risk an build a hotel that started a turnarond of that entire area.’ Mayor Koch agrees with that assessment, as does Mr. Tisch, who, at the time, vociferously opposed the abatement as unfair to other developers and hotel operators.
‘Donald Trump, Mr. Stern concludes, ‘is a transplanted 19th-century swashbuckling entrepreneur, and it is up to public officials to rein him in. I don’t so much fault him for asking the city for thigs as I do public officials who gave him his way.
‘It is not a crime to contribute to politicians,’ says Mr. Stern. ‘For a New York real-estate developer not to contribute would probably make him look overtly hostile.’
Charges of political influence were also made when Mr. Trump hired Louise Sunshine to lobby for his site for the convention center. Mrs. Sunshine had been the chief fund-raiser for Governor Carey’s re-election campaign and was collecting a state salary at the time. Concern was voiced over the intermingling of roles.
Some people still worry about Mr. Trump’s political connections. Ruth W. Messinger is a City Council member who, despite her continued opposition to the project, has worked for four years to try to insure that a development at Lincoln West will be reasonably compatible with the neighborhood. Reports that Mr. Trump may buy into the project, she says, ‘scare me to death.’
‘He seems to get his way in this city,’ she says. Mr. Trump is rather astonished that people feel this way after the city denied him a tax abatement on Trump Tower worth about $15 million to $20 million.
Although it has yet to become an issue, some eyebrows were raised when Mr. Trump was named to a panel studying the feasibility and site selection of a domed sports complex in New York even though he has expressed a strong desire to build it.
Mrs. Messinger does not much care for Mr. Trump’s ‘contentiousness’ in pressing a lawsuit against the city over refusal of his tax abatement on Trump Tower or for his filing suit against the official who refused it, Anthony Gliedman, the city’s Housing Commissioner. Says Roy Cohn: ‘You don’t use the term ‘settlement’ with Donald.’
Mr. Trump’s critics charge that this is typical of his bullying ways. Tenants of an apartment building at Central Park South and Avenue of the Americas owned by Mr. Trump charge that he is trying to force them out. He has expressed a desire to build a lavish new hotel on the site of that building and the adjacent. Barbizon-Plaza Hotel. Mr. Trump has filed suits against several of the tenants and Housing Court judges have thrown several of the suits out f court on grounds that they were brought in bad faith to harass and annoy the tenants and were a blatant attempt to force the tenants out through spurious and unnecessary litigation.
For his part, Mr. Trump claims that millionaires are paying $400 for large apartments with park views in the rent-controlled building. He has had tin placed over windows of vacant apartments, giving the building the look of a tenement. He has offered to house homeless people in the empty apartments, an offer Mayor Koch declined because he viewed it as as an obvious attempt to make remaining tenants want to leave.
Mr. Trump first became a target for many of his critics when, in 1980, he jackhammered two Art Deco has-relief sculptures that had adorned the Bonwit building, which he was razing to make way for Trump Tower. He destroyed them rather than donating them to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had expressed interest in the pieces. Critics never fail to mention the episode. Now, Mr. Trump says he is sorry he did it, but insists that little interest was shown in preserving the statues until after they were demolished.
Mr. Trump does not place patience on his list of virtues. Workmen confirm a story that he paid $75,000 to truck several 40-foot trees from Florida to Trump Tower, where a tunnel was built into the building so the trees would not be damaged by frost. The 3,000-pound trees were then installed in the lower plaza of the atrium. Mr. Trump did not like the look. He ordered the trees removed, and, when workmen balked for 24 hours, Mr. Trump had the trees cut down with a chainsaw.
It is often pointed out that Mr. Trump is prone to exageration in describing his projects. Oh, he lies a great deal, says Philip Johnson with a laugh. But it’s sheer exuberance, exaggeration. It’s never about anything important. He’s straight as an arrow in his business dealings.
Sometimes exaggeration just seems to swirl around him. A recent television show, ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, reported that his Greenwich, Conn., waterfront home is a $10 million estate. Mr. Trump will admit that, yes he paid less than one-third of that and says: I didn’t tell them that.
Various figures, ranging from $6 million to $10 million have been reported as the amount he paid for the Generals, but, as one who was involved in the negotiations says, the figure is closer to $1 million. Mr. Trump answers: I never told them those other figures.
And just about every profile ever written about Mr. Trump states that he graduated first in his class at Wharton in 1968. Although the school refused comment, the commencement program from 1968 does not list him as graduating with honors of any kind. He says he never told them that either.
Some of mr. Trump’s critics are worried that the man who may change New York’s skyline before he’s through may simply have no taste. The worry about palace-guard doormen and talk of high-rise castles.
If the charge is that Donald is unsophisticated, says Roy Cohn, they are in some ways right. If you go with Donald to see an art collection, he’s not that interested. He’d rather look out the windows at building.
His taste is all right, says Philip Johnson, but it is sometimes overwhelmed by his sense of publicity. He will become less and less glitzy. He’ll listen to me.
Oddly enough, for all of those who criticize his buildings as not in the best of taste, architecture critics have generally hailed them. In her review of the glass-and-chrome Grand Hyatt, for example, Ada Louise Huxtable spoke of the building’s ingenuity and elegance and called it urbane and elegant New York. After an afternoon of negotiating with the Argentines, Mr. Trump returns to his office and momentarily takes a seat behind a desk big enough for F-14 landings. The office is not, however, what is known in the decorating profession as a power office, the kind common among top executives that is designed to induce groveling. It is of casual, modern decor with models of buildings and blue-prints scattered about.
Mr. Trump has abandoned the flashy haberdashery he favored some years ago – a wardrobe that included a burgundy suit and matching shoes – and he now dresses conservatively if casually, often wearing dark suits, white shirts, subdued ties and loafers. He speaks slowly and softly and in the same casual manner to eminent architects an business moguls as to the coffee and sandwich vendor outside his casino-hotel. He is said, by acquaintances, to be generally even tempered and rarely seems ruffled. He is not given to unkind remarks and is nearly always in a positive frame of mind. I never think of the negative, he says. All obstacles can be overcome.
He talks boastfully about his projects, but is uncomfortable talking about himself. He does not smoke and does not drink alcohol. He plays golf and tennis regularly. His wife describes him as an all-American boy who likes country music best and prefers a steak and baked potato to anything called cuisine.
Although he is 6 feet 2 inches, he does not particularly stand out in a crowd. His sandy hair is probably a bit long by standards of the corporate world, with the sides slicked back just a bit. More often than not, published profiles describe him as handsome. His smile is an impudent-looking curl of the lip that makes his portrait appear less like the head of a billion-dollar corporation in his office than Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas.
He has boyish looks that are accentuated by the company he keeps. His equals in the business world are all much older than he and these are the people he most often socializes with. He has difficulty now figuring out who his real friends are, as billionaires will.
He has not yet indulged in planes, race cars, polo ponies, art work, yachts, and the like. He says he doesn’t have time for all of that now and prefers putting his money back into his deals. Of course there is the estate in Greenwich, and, Mrs. Trump says, We have a speedboat up there, and I like to go out and go a hundred miles an hour in it and come back. We don’t want to sit on a yacht all day. His father pulled Donald Trump out of a prep school because he didn’t want his son growing up with spoiled kids with $40 ball gloves, sending him instead to military school. His father bragged at the sports forum that he had taken the subway and saved $15 car fare.
Mrs. Trump says that, though they both work long hours, they try to spend two or three nights a week at home with the children, aged 6 years, 2 years and three months, buut the social obligations do pile up. In addition to dinner parties, Mrs. Trump says they like to attend Broadway openings an that they frequent the ballet and opera. Mrs. Trump is active in support of the United Cerebral Palsy Fund and other charities, as well as the New York City Opera. She is also an active supporter of Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Trump seems to have maintained a detached view of his flood of fortune and publicity. He frequently mentions that all of the attention and success may well be fleeting.
His friends say that he is not yet fully cognizant of his station. He loves to got to ’21’ for lunch and be impressed with all the wealthy, powerful, famous people, says an acquaintance. He doesn’t quite realize that he’s one of them.
That may be changing. He recently make a secret offer to buy the place.
After dusk, he rides through the city on his way to the last appointment of the day, enjoying the lights that make the whole city sparkle like the inside of Trump Tower. He talked about his plans for the future, as much as anyone who operates on spontaneous combustion can.
Mr. Trump says whatever else he gets into he will undoubtedly stay in real estate. He hints everal times at a deal in the works, a big deal, very Trumpish, regarding television. but he will not divulge details.
The football thing is cute, Trump Tower and the piano and all of that, it’s all cute, but what does it mean? he says, sounding what borders on a note of uncharacteristic despair.
Asked to explain, he adds: What does it all mean when some wacko over in Syria can end the world with nuclear weapons?
He says that his concern for nuclear holocaust is not one that popped into his mind during any recent made-of-television movie. He says that it has been troubling him since his uncle, a nuclear physicist, began talking to him about it 15 years ago.
His greatest dream is to personally do something about the problem and, characteristically, Donald Trump thinks he has an answer to nuclear armament: Let him negotiate arms agreements – he who can talk people into selling $100 million properties to him for $13 million. Negotiations is an art, he says and I have a gift for it.
The idea that he would ever be allowed to got into a room alone and negotiate for the United States, let alone be successful in disarming the world, seems the naive musing of an optimistic, deluded young man who has never lost at anything he has tried. But he believes that through years of making his views known and through supporting candidates who share his views, it could someday happen.
He is constantly asked about his interest in running for elective office. Absolutely not, he answers. All of the false smiles and the red tape. It is too difficult to really do anthing.
He dislikes meetings and paperwork and is in the enviable position of being able to avoid both.
His last appointment of the day is a committee meeting of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission. He walks in late to a conference room at Price Waterhouse & Company, the accounting firm, where a group of about 10 men, most of whom look to be corporate junior executives about his age, tired looking young men with their ties loosened after a long day at the office, gathered around a conference table.
Mr. Trump is the co-chairman, but he has not been to many of the meetings and, although they don’t show it, some of the committee members are peeved. The meeting has already begun when he strolls in. There are written reports on the table about design contests and a fund-raising campaign for a memorial. A good deal of hand-wringing is going on over how in the world to raise even a small portion of the $1.4 million needed. The men are stating the need to energize that component of the campaign, to plug into that sector, to interface. Mr. Trump does not take off his coat and slouches in a chair. When he finally speaks up, he says hat he is on the commission because the young men who went to Vietnam got a bad deal – which, about the worst thing that can happen to anyone.
He then throws out the names of some people, friends of mine, whom they could probably tap for substantial contributions. Then, we’re going to have the fund-raiser at Trump Tower, he says, punching through the canvas. I’ve called the White House. The President is coming so we can raise the price of the 800 tickets from $500 to $1,000. That will just about put you where you want to be.
I had to be going, he says. All of the men stare silently at him as he stands and picks up a copy of the afternoon newspaper on the conference table, looking for a moment at his photograph on both the front and back pages, photographs taken at the sports forum where the men called out his name. That was 10 hours, several projects and millions of dollars ago. He shakes his head and smiles at the photographs as the men continue to stare at him intently.
Mr. Trump, one of the men about his age asks sheepishly. What’s Herschel Walker really like?, He’s nice guy, really, Donald Trump says softly of his halfback. He’s the nicest guy in the world.
Tic-Toc 2 all those who peddle the “RUSSIA COLLUSION B.S.” your days are numbered! = DTS = Draining The Swamp
President Trump told a crowd in Florida that the ABC News reporter should have been fired.
“They took this fraudster from ABC,” Trump said. “They suspended him for a month. They should have fired him for what he wrote. He drove the stock market down 350 points in minutes, which by the way, tells you they really like me, right? When you think of it, and you know what he cost people? And I said to everybody: ‘get yourself a lawyer and sue ABC News, sue them.