As we await the effect of Donald Trump’s presidency on the economy, one thing is certain – the Russians love his condos. A close look at Trump’s business dealings show that maybe his perceived soft spot for Russia is based on decades of courting wealthy Russians to buy condos in his luxury highrises and invest in other real estate ventures.
A recent article in USA Today reveals that Trump first traveled to Moscow in the 1980’s to discuss renovating hotels there. After several bankruptcies made it difficult for him to raise money in the United States for high-end hotel and condominium projects in the 1990’s, Trump and representatives travelled to Moscow to talk deals and attract buyers, according to interviews with sources who worked for Trump over the years.
Real estate brokers in New York, Florida, and Dubai told USA Today that Trump properties still attract high-end buyers from Russia, as well as from other countries.
A well-respected real estate broker from New York, Dolly Lenz, said she sold about 65 units in Trump World Tower to Russian buyers looking to invest in the United States. “They all wanted to meet Donald. They became very friendly,” she claims.
Ilya Reznik, who said he sold dozens of condos to Russians in Trump properties throughout South Florida, said his clients like Trump’s reputation for high quality luxury that is priced right. “They’re businessman, not politicians.”
Gil Dezer, whose family built six Trump buildings with their own development money in South Florida, said Russians buy Trump properties primarily for the brand name. Because Dezer developed the properties under the Trump brand, the Trump Organization received a royalty fee at the time of the sale, “and the name stays on the building.”
Back in 2008, Donald Trump, Jr. told investors in Moscow that the Trump Organization had trademarked the Donald Trump name in Russia, and planned to build housing and hotels in Moscow and sell licenses to other developers, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant.
At the time, Donald Trump, Jr. maintained that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets, say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia, indeed a lot of money coming in for new-builds and resales reflecting a trend in the Russian economy.”
These dealings may reflect a certain comfort level Donald Trump may have with the country and its leader. Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, told the Financial Times in October, “The Trump Organization does not have any properties in Russia, and the press’ fascination with this narrative is both misleading and fabricated…….yet another example of the press’ liberal bias towards Mr. Trump.”