According to the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. lost $70 million during Trump’s presidency. Even in these jaded times where billionaires look down their noses at mere millionaires with pity, that’s a colossal amount of money for a single hotel to lose in four years.
Had Trump not been president and therefore unable to funnel foreign guests to his DC hotel his losses would have been even greater still. Newly discovered documents reveal that the hotel received $3.7 million in payments from foreign governments — enough to cover 7,400 nights at the hotel on an average daily rate of $500.
Nevertheless, the holding company that ran the hotel had to funnel $24 million into the place just to keep it afloat the final four years of his presidency. The Trump International Hotel in DC was and remains a greedy albatross around the neck of the Trump financial empire, and makes one wonder if he actually owns a financial empire in the first place.
Being a hotelier during a pandemic is a dicey proposition at best, but when the hotels in question are associated with the man that many people believe is responsible for the pandemic, the brand is rendered doubly toxic. Donald Trump’s name on a building has never been a selling point. Now he’s so universally hated that it’s become a distinct liability. Neither does it help that the people stupid enough to love Trump are ordinarily too poor to afford to stay at any of his 11 luxury hotels.
It is unclear how many of his hotels are losing money, but some analysts think they all are. Whatever the truth is, we know that the decade after 1985 (that is, the decade “The Art of the Deal” was published), Donald Trump lost over a billion dollars. We know he inherited at least $400 million from his father, and we know he got some sweetheart loans from Deutsche Bank, but has Donald Trump ever made any real money of his own?
Possibly not. In fact, it may be the case that Donald Trump is, economically speaking, the poorest man in American history. Whatever the case many think that he has managed to single-handedly lose more money than anyone else— ever.
Trump’s rich man mythology has been steadily losing its lustre for years. Today among real millionaires and billionaires it’s largely a laugh-out-loud joke. But what might surprise many people is that Donald Trump is actually poor, literally more economically poor than anyone in American history.
In the final analysis the joke is on everyone who looked up to Trump because of his wealth. It just might turn out that your cab driver, the janitor at your company and the guy who pumped your gas this morning is richer than Donald Trump. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony? The very people Trump sneers at and looks down on are, in fact, wealthier than he could dream of being. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.