The New York Times recently reported Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax returns, selling the documents as “never before disclosed” to the public.
But while Trump’s tax return documents have indeed “never before disclosed,” the Republican presidential nominee actually wrote about his near $1 billion loss in the first chapter of his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback.”
More interestingly, the NYT actually published the first chapter of Trump’s book, and wrote a review of it in December 1997.
Here’s what Trump wrote:
One day, while walking down Fifth Avenue, hand in hand with Marla, I pointed across the street to a man holding a cup and with a Seeing Eye dog. I asked, “Do you know who that is?”
Marla said to me: “Yes, Donald. He’s a beggar. Isn’t it too bad? He looks so sad!”
I said, “You’re right. He’s a beggar, but he’s worth about $900 million more than me.” She looked at me and said, “What do you mean, Donald? How could he possibly be worth $900 million more than you?”
I said, “Let’s assume he’s worth nothing (only from the standpoint of dollars)–I’m worth minus $900 million.”
Trump attributes his huge losses to changes to federal tax law that disincentivized investing in the kinds of properties he owned. By the early 1990s, Trump’s holdings were hemorrhaging cash. At one point, it got so bad Trump said many of his properties were “worthless.”
My net worth had been in the billions. By the spring of 1990 I was deeply in the red; my empire was hemorrhaging value. When the Supreme Court upheld the retroactivity provisions in 1992, I knew that not only for me, but for my colleagues as well, prospects were grim. Even for the awesome Olympia & York, headed by the powerful Reichmann family, the future looked bleak.
In 1989, with approximately the same debt, I had a net worth of almost $2 billion, maybe more. By the end of 1990 I had the same debt levels, but I was in the red. The problem: property values had plummeted so dramatically that many of my projects were worthless. In retrospect, it all seems easy to understand. Nevertheless, at the time, it was one of the toughest meetings I’ve ever had.
Trump, however, was able to reduce his debt and make his “comeback” — in fact, NYT even called Trump the “Comeback King” in 1995 for escaping all that debt.
By 1993 I began to feel more like Chavez than like Taylor. My personal debt of $975 million had been reduced to $115 million, and I had two years to finish cleaning it up. There was no way to deny that things were going really great. Piece by piece, deal by deal, a beautiful picture was beginning to emerge. What my people and I had already achieved was astonishing.
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