How Much Is Donald Worth? Here's How He Figures It

'Mental projections' and ballpark estimates rule Trump's valuation of his empire
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2009 9:04 AM CDT
How Much Is Donald Worth? Here's How He Figures It
Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala in New York, May 4, 2009.   (AP Photo)

As a defamation action brought by Donald Trump against a writer for allegedly understating the Donald’s net worth gets under way today, the question on everyone’s mind is: How much is Trump really worth? The 2005 book put the figure at $250 million, Deutsche Bank pegs it at $788 million, and Trump says he's worth $5 billion. The discrepancy, the Wall Street Journal reports, comes from Trump's creative calculations, which include something he calls  “mental projections.”

For instance, in a deposition, he claimed a 50% ownership of a Manhattan residential development that he actually had a 30% limited-partnership interest in, on the grounds that he also gets fees for managing the buildings and the deal didn't involve any cash up front. "In my own mind I've always felt that," he said. "That 30% is equated to 50%." On another deal,a  condo-hotel project in Hawaii, he calls the building "largely owned by me," though all he has is a licensing agreement.

(Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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