Mar-a-Lago: Insiders baffled by Donald Trump’s mansion price

A New York judge’s Tuesday ruling valuing Donald Trump’s sprawling, headline-making Florida estate at $US18 million ($A28 million) has left industry experts perplexed.

In his verdict, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron delivered a bombshell ruling that the former president committed fraud by inflating the value of his wealth, with details including the monetary value associated with Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, the New York Postreports.

This decision, which came down without a jury, has sent shockwaves through political — and real estate — circles, especially that $US18 million ($A28 million) base value for the property.

One prominent Palm Beach real estate broker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post, “It’s utterly delusional to think that property is only worth $18 million.”

The insider added, “If that property were on the market today, I would list it at around $300 million, minimum … at least. He also has the separate golf course minutes away.”

Engoron’s verdict holds Trump, 77, along with his family and his business empire, the Trump Organisation, liable for fraud — a central allegation in New York Attorney-General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the defendants.

In a 35-page judgment, Engoron sided with James, asserting that Trump had made unequivocally false statements in official documents to secure favourable terms with financial institutions.

Notably, Trump’s claims, such as his triplex penthouse in Trump Tower being 30,000 square feet when it was closer to 11,000, were also described by Engoron as “fraudulent” given their significant discrepancies.

However, the ruling raised eyebrows when Engoron, a Democrat who ran unopposed in the general election on Nov. 3, 2015, evaluated the worth of Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago Club resort at $US18 million ($A28 million), ruling that the property was inflated by 2,300 per cent.

He cited a basic Palm Beach Assessor valuation that ranged from US$18 million ($A28 million) to $US28 million ($AS44 million) between 2011 and 2021, with industry sources saying it fails to take into consideration the fair market value. This valuation is far from Trump’s 1985 purchase price of $US10 million (under $A16 million), $US8 million less than what the judge declared it was worth today.

There are also nearby comps.

To put it in perspective, a two-acre wooded lot at 1980 S. Ocean Blvd., just five minutes from Mar-a-Lago, is currently listed for $US150 million ($A236 million).

Mar-a-Lago, situated at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., dwarfs this lot tenfold and operates as a commercial business with around 500 members as part of the golf club.

Also nearby: a 2.3-acre plot of land at 1063/1071 N. Ocean Blvd., on the market for a sky-high $US200 million ($A315 million)

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate boasts 20 acres.

Forbeshad appraised the property, boasting 128 rooms, at approximately $US160 million ($A252 million) in 2018 following extensive renovations and its exclusive Palm Beach location on Billionaires’ Row. The property includes a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, five clay tennis courts and a sprawling waterfront pool.

And in the five years since, Palm Beach properties have only increased in value.

Nearby residential properties, less than half the size and lacking ocean frontage, are commanding an average price of $US40 million ($A63 million) in today’s market.

There have also been very prominent local purchases.

In March, Rush Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, sold her husband’s longtime Palm Beach compound, on 2.7 acres, for $US155 million ($A244 million).

And back in 2013, hedge funder Ken Griffin paid $US129.6 million for four parcels in the area.

In addition to the verdict, Engoron revoked the New York “business certificates” held by the Trump Organisation and any other New York-based business associated with the former commander-in-chief or his family. He further mandated an independent third party to oversee the “dissolution of the cancelled LLCs.”

In response, Trump denounced it as a “Witch Hunt.”

Trump issued a lengthy statement, saying, “It is a great company that has been slandered and maligned by this politically motivated Witch Hunt. It is very unfair, and I call for the help from the highest courts in New York State, or the Federal System, to intercede. THIS IS NOT AMERICA.”

Last year, Engoron referred to Trump as “just a bad guy” in a scathing rebuke to a lawyer arguing that the former president was being unfairly singled out for investigation by James. “If Ms. James has a thing against him, OK, that’s not in my understanding [of] unlawful discrimination. He’s just a bad guy she should go after as the chief law enforcement officer of the state.”

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and has been reproduced with permission.

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