$10 billion man? Trump unveils details of his fortune

Says his annual income is more than $362 million

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WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled new documents Wednesday setting his personal fortune at more than $10 billion and an annual income of more than $362 million.

The businessman says he filed his personal financial disclosure with federal regulators Wednesday afternoon, though he has not released the form publicly.

Among the sources of his income has been $214 million in payments from NBC related to his business reality television show, “The Apprentice.” NBC recently cut its ties with Trump.

The $10 billion figure — up nearly 15 per cent since the previous year, by Trump’s calculation, would make Trump the wealthiest person ever to run for president. But there was little information available about how Trump calculated the figure.

Trump’s campaign says the federal forms are “not designed for a man of Mr. Trump’s massive wealth.”

If accurate, the figure would surpass previous wealthy candidates like Ross Perot, business heirs like Steve Forbes or private-equity investors like Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee.

“I have a Gucci store worth more than Romney,” Trump told the Des Moines Register last month, referring to the fashion company’s flagship store in New York’s Trump Tower.

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TRUMP IS ALMOST CERTAINLY THE RICHEST PERSON EVER IN A PRESIDENTIAL RACE

His net worth claim eclipses that of Ross Perot, the billionaire Texas entrepreneur who ran a third-party campaign in 1992. Aside from Perot, no other candidate has reached the $1 billion dollar mark, including publishing empire heir Steve Forbes (roughly $400 million) or private equity titan Mitt Romney ($250 million.)

IT’S GOOD TO START OFF RICH

Trump has cited his ability to become rich as an important qualification for public office. Though he has earned a huge sum of money, Trump started off in the upper reaches of the 1 per cent. His grandfather, Fred Trump Sr., was a successful builder. His father, Fred Trump Jr., earned a fortune estimated at several hundred million dollars through building solid-but-modest housing in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens — sometimes with government support.

TRUMP HASN’T BEEN BANKRUPT, BUT HIS COMPANIES HAVE — FOUR TIMES

“Stop saying I went bankrupt!” Trump demanded on Twitter last month, a sentiment he expresses regularly. The confusion stems from the difference between personal and corporate bankruptcy.

Various arms of Trump’s hotel and casino business underwent Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009. But only in the first instance — where Trump had personally guaranteed a vast debt owed by the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, — was Trump’s personal fortune at risk.

In the other bankruptcies, his exposure was limited to just his stake in the particular venture. While plenty of other entities with Trump’s name on them have failed, including the Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico this week, those were just companies that were renting Trump’s name.

HE TALKS UP RISK-TAKING, BUT HIS CURRENT PORTFOLIO IS QUITE CONSERVATIVE

Setting aside Trump’s $3.3 billion valuation of his personal brand, most of Trump’s wealth is in the form in the real estate. Yet the summary of his finances he presented at his campaign kickoff last month lists more than $4 billion in mature, fully-owned assets, with less than $500 million in debt.

That’s extremely safe — and completely out of keeping with the heavy borrowing that is standard for owners of marquis commercial real estate.

In his book “The Art of the Deal,” Trump extolled such borrowing: “Leverage: Don’t make deals without it.”

CAVEATS ABOUT HIS WEALTH MAY BE WARRANTED

Doubting Trump’s fortune can be hazardous. In 2006, Trump sued author Tim O’Brien for citing anonymous Trump insiders lowballing Trump’s net worth in the book “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.”

Precisely valuing a fortune such as Trump’s is difficult, subjective work under the best of circumstances.

Trump lost his lawsuit against O’Brien on First Amendment grounds, but the panel of judges who killed the case in 2011 noted Trump’s history of claims, such as asserting that a 72-story building with tall ceilings was actually a 90-story building. Because of numerous caveats, the judges declared that even a 2004 financial statement authored by Trump’s accountants had “limited value as an accurate representation of Trump’s net worth.”

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