Trump Tower without The Donald? Here’s what that could look like

NEW YORK — He lost the presidency. He may now lose his glitzy towers.

After a Manhattan Supreme Court justice found that the former president flagrantly overvalued his net worth and assets, Donald Trump’s New York real estate portfolio could be one painful price he pays.

The decision, issued on Tuesday by Justice Arthur Engoron, is still being interpreted and may be overturned by an appeal promised by Trump’s legal team.

However, a portion of the ruling effectively ordered Trump and his family to abandon their New York businesses.

On the surface, the decision appears to force Trump to relinquish control of prized assets such as the gold-plated Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and 40 Wall Street, a valuable and recognizable neo-gothic lower Manhattan skyscraper with a mint-green roof.

In a statement, Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, stated that Engoron’s ruling aims to “seize control of private property,” and that the Trump family will seek “remedies to rectify this miscarriage of justice.” Kise asked the judge in court on Wednesday to clarify the scope of the ruling.

However, Engoron refused to say whether the order required Trump’s iconic New York real estate assets to be sold or managed by a court-appointed monitor. Legal experts disagreed on whether the ruling was clearly excessive.

According to Joshua Stein, a prominent New York commercial real estate lawyer, “it’s a long, slow slog between this one adverse ruling” and an outcome that would force Trump to sell his real estate holdings.

If Trump Tower is sold, the former president will almost certainly try to keep his name on the structure, which also houses apartments, restaurants, and commercial space, according to Stein. Above the mixed-use tower’s entryway, “Trump Tower” screams in blocky gold lettering.

No New York structure is more closely associated with Trump than the 58-story skyscraper located between 57th and 58th Streets. He rode down the building’s elevator before launching his successful presidential campaign in 2015. (It’s unclear whether Engoron’s decision will compel Trump to give up his beloved penthouse triplex at Trump Tower.)

Given the 77-year-old Republican’s tarnished reputation, buyers of any Trump properties may condition their purchase on the removal of his name.

“Any building that gets sold, the name is going to go away,” Stein stated. “That would be my bet.”

Trump’s real estate holdings in his hometown are already dwindling.

Following the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, the city terminated its contracts with the Trump Organization, putting Central Park’s carousel and the Wollman and Lasker ice skating rinks under new management.

And Trump’s name is already being removed from properties.

The Trump Organization sold the right to operate the public golf course at Ferry Point in the Bronx earlier this month. The Bally’s casino chain, which has taken over management of the course, intends to remove Trump’s name.

Trump’s name was removed from the Central Park ice rinks in 2019. His name was also removed from Trump Soho New York, which had been known as the Dominick since 2017. (Trump did not own the hotel.)

According to Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer, even if Trump is never forced to give up his property, he may choose to sell it willingly.

“He has a really good chance of winning an appeal,” Bailey stated. “However, being in a situation where he may be fed up with New York, and he may be the most hated man with New York, he may want to just make a deal and get time to sell his properties.”

The process of forcing Trump to give up his holdings, according to David Cay Johnston, a journalist who has written extensively about Trump and teaches at Syracuse University’s law school, could be a “Gordian knot.”

But he did say one thing was certain.

“This is the end of Donald Trump as a business presence in New York,” he stated.

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