(Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Imagine: Manhattan, 2012. The Trump Organization owns a 70-story office building in the Financial District. Is it worth $ 527 million? Or is the actual value $ 16.7 million?

Or, could it be… neither?

As the Washington Post reported this morning, the former president’s eponymous company offered very different numbers in 2012 for its iconic New York property, depending on whether it was looking for a loan or trying to keep its tax assessment as low as possible. And the Manhattan District Attorney is on the trail.

For years, rumors have circulated that New York prosecutors were investigating Trump Organization real estate appraisals. Then Boy Wonder Eric Trump gave NYAG Tish James a golden opportunity to confirm it publicly, thanks to his doomed efforts to avoid a subpoena. In a motion to compel his testimony in August 2020, James explained that his office was investigating discrepancies in real estate appraisals provided by the former president’s eponymous company.

In short, Trump’s affairs seemed to have cobbled together numbers from scratch, depending on whether or not one was trying to get a loan or minimize the tax owed.

The motion specifically described a 213-acre parcel in Westchester County that the Trump Organization spent two decades trying to subdivide for development, before mining in 2016 and donating the undeveloped portion of the land for a conservation easement. In 2012, while attempting to buy the Buffalo Bills, Trump valued the land, known as Seven Springs, at $ 291 million. But in 2015, Cushman Wakefield valued it at $ 56 million, reflecting its potential for further development.

Except that there was no potential for development, as Trump had taken 20 years to discover. So Cushman Wakefield’s $ 21 million assessment of the 158-acre conservation easement raised eyebrows, especially since the tax assessment for the entire land, including the mansion, was only of $ 19 million.

Before she teamed up with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., James’ office clashed in court with the Trump Org. and his attorney Morgan Lewis on communications with appraisers, which attorneys insist was solicitor-client privilege. And according to the To post, this questionable valuation survey only got wider now that it is a DA / AG joint.

Not only are prosecutors looking at 40 Wall Street and Seven Springs, but their investigation now includes a golf course in suburban Los Angeles located on land with a history of landslides. Because go home writers you are still drunk.

In 1999, when someone else owned the course, a 2,000 foot slide resulted in the 18th hole in the ocean. After Trump bought the land in 2002, he sought to earn extra money by building houses along the route – but city officials blocked those plans in one section of the route, claiming that a layer slippery ash inside the cliffs made them vulnerable to yet another landslide.

Damn it, city officials!

According to To post, the Trump organization valued the 17-acre land at $ 967,000 in a 2013 statement to the tax assessor. But the following year, he requested a conservation easement for the same land, valuing it at $ 21 million.

You’ll never guess which company provided that $ 21 million valuation.

LOL, just kidding, it was Cushman Wakefield again.

And that’s how the Manhattan district attorney ended up investigating the California geological surveys. Which is either a long-awaited look at how America’s oligarchs lie and cheat with impunity, or the “arming of political prosecutors” that “erodes Americans’ trust in the justice system and it must stop,” according to whether you ask a person or Eric Trump, who is always flapping his wings.

Keep talking, mate, that really helps.

New York prosecutors target Trump’s new target: vastly different valuations on same properties [WaPo]


Liz dye lives in Baltimore where she writes on law and politics.