An old video of ex-President Donald Trump discussing the price of his Mar-a-Lago property has resurfaced on social media, igniting fresh debate amidst his current business fraud lawsuit. The lawsuit, initiated by New York’s Attorney General Letitia James, accuses Trump and his associates of inflating his net worth by billions to secure improved loan terms from financial institutions. Trump’s South Florida estate’s value is pivotal in this lawsuit.
Despite the serious accusations, Trump has denied any wrongdoing, pointing fingers at James for wielding the lawsuit as a political weapon against him as he remains a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. The lawsuit, however, is civil rather than criminal, saving Trump from the possibility of imprisonment.
Judge Arthur Engoron has already found Trump, his adult sons, their businesses, and executives guilty of fraud, with six additional allegations, including falsifying business records and insurance fraud, still under scrutiny. The outcome of this trial could result in Trump losing some of his renowned properties and being banned from New York business activities.
The resurfaced video, shared on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter by user @TBifford, features Trump discussing the acquisition of the estate in the mid-1980s. The property, listed for $20 million in 1980, was reportedly bought by Trump for a much lower price, with speculation suggesting a figure as low as $5 million. Trump has not contested this figure. However, additional furnishings and beachfront access costs reportedly drove the final price closer to $10 million.
Federal prosecutors argue that Trump’s inflated valuation of Mar-a-Lago is part of the lawsuit’s problem. According to the Associated Press, Trump has claimed the property’s worth to be no less than $420 million and potentially up to $1.5 billion.
Engoron has agreed with James’ claim that Trump has significantly overvalued the property. Engoron highlighted the striking difference between Trump’s estimate and the Palm Beach County tax appraiser’s valuations, which ranged from $18 million to $37 million, a discrepancy of around 2,300 percent.