Trump Flashback: The 2008 sale of Palm Beach mansion to Russian


Editor’s Note: Donald Trump on Wednesday referenced the sale of a mansion in Palm Beach to a Russian billionaire. The 2008 sale came up as Trump was denying having significant business interests in Russia in light of the alleged hacking of Democratic Party emails.

Trump dismissed suggestions he had major investments in Russia, instead suggesting his major business was transaction was the sale of the Palm Beach mansion eight years ago. This is what he said, as reported by the New York Times:

“Palm Beach is a very expensive place. There was a man who went bankrupt and I bought the house for $40 million and I sold it to a Russian for $100 million including brokerage commissions. So I sold it. So I bought it for 40, I told it for 100 to a Russian. That was a number of years ago. I guess probably I sell condos to Russians, O.K.?”

The story below was written by Alexandra Clough in 2008 — at the time of the sale.

The Donald’s deal is done.

Real estate mogul Donald Trump closed the sale of a Palm Beach mansion to a Russian billionaire Tuesday for the blockbuster price of $95million.

“I love breaking records,” Trump said Wednesday, “and this is a record.”

It’s believed to be the most expensive single-family home ever sold in the United States.

“At the same time, I believe the buyer made an absolutely fantastic deal, and time will prove this right,” Trump said.

The mansion, at 515 N. County Road, was sold to an entity known as County Road Property LLC. Russian fertilizer billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev acknowledged last month that he is the buyer.

Trump called the deal a $100 million sale, but the deed lists the price as $95 million, said Robert Brody, a West Palm Beach lawyer representing the buyer.

Trump paid all closing costs and brokerage commissions, including $665,000 in documentary stamps, sources say. Brody declined to discuss closing cost payments. Trump’s Palm Beach attorney, Paul Rampell, declined to comment.

The sale marks a triumphant end to Trump’s bid to turn a troubled but prime piece of Palm Beach land into gold.

Trump scooped up the home, the former Abe Gosman estate, for $41.35 million in 2004 as part of the health-care magnate’s bankruptcy filing. Although Trump renovated the property, the 6-acre property’s real appeal is its 475 feet of unobstructed oceanfront.

The final price ended up lower than Trump’s initial asking price of $125 million, and a hair under initial reports of a $100 million contract sales price. The house’s final sales price was adjusted downward from $100 million during last-minute negotiations, sources said.

But the deal still is a victory for Trump and for the Palm Beach mansion market, which continues to prove resilient despite the crisis striking the real estate market throughout the country.

“I think it shows the strength of international belief in the U.S., as well as the Florida marketplace,” said Burt Minkoff, a real estate agent with the Corcoran Group on Palm Beach. “Investors still see a long-term value in this marketplace. Nobody buys a $100 million house to flip it in the short run.”

Trump’s listing agent, Lawrence Moens of Palm Beach, was not available for comment Wednesday.

Carol Digges of Brown Harris Stevens in Palm Beach represented the buyer. Brown Harris Stevens declined to comment.

Now attention turns to the new owner, Rybolovlev, said to be one of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen. The Forbes list of the world’s billionaires places him at No. 59, with an estimated net worth of $12.8 billion.

In a statement released to The Wall Street Journal in June, Rybolovlev confirmed he was the buyer but characterized the purchase as an investment.

Sources say Rybolovlev is considering tearing down the house and building a new mansion - a move that could make the deal the most expensive teardown.

- alexandra_clough@pbpost.com

High-priced sales

Tom and Katie Cruise’s 13,000-square-foot, 1.2 acre Beverly Hills estate cost a mere $35 million. One of the most expensive home sales in 2007 - virtually an entire floor of New York City’s famed Plaza Hotel - didn’t crack the $70 million mark. Here’s how other single-family home sales measure up to Trump’s big deal:

1236 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach

Price: $81.5 million

Year: 2008

Noteworthy: Billionaire businessman and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel sold his property to John L. Thornton, 54, a former Goldman Sachs partner and chairman of the Brookings Institution.

1300 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach

Price: $70 million

Year: 2004

Noteworthy: Financier Ron Perelman sold the property to home builder Dwight Schar in 2004. Schar later paid $22 million for the lot next door.

700 N. Lake Trail, Palm Beach

Price: $50 million

Year: 2006

Noteworthy: Financier Henry Kravis bought the house in early 2006 from Joyce Fisher, widow of Robert C. Fisher, who invented the seat belt.

Source: Palm Beach Post research, property records


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