US Presidential hopeful lives in a weird world of fabulous wealth

I'm really rich." That, according to Donald Trump, is one of the primary reasons you should vote for him. He's so rich that he doesn't pander to millionaire donors, so rich that he can buy and sell all the other Republican presidential candidates combined, several times over.

How rich? A net worth of almost US$10 billion ($15 billion), claims Trump. Forbes says it's closer to US$4.5 billion, give or take a billion. "They don't know many of my assets," Trump says. "But they're very nice people."

Either way, he has a staggering amount of money and everything that comes with living among the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent. He's the richest man ever to run for president, richer than Ross Perot and Steve Forbes and Mitt Romney. "I have a Gucci store that's worth more than Romney," Trump told the Des Moines Register.

Trump has been pilloried for many, many things - but not for his wealth. In the ongoing debate about income inequality, he has somehow escaped the scorn heaped on bankers, businessmen and other power brokers.


As a developer, Trump says, he has spent his life dealing with construction workers and other blue-collar folks, so his fortune has never been an issue. "I think they view it as beneficial to a lot of people, perhaps aspirational," he says. "They think of me as one of them, and I think of myself as one of them."

A man who never met a superlative he didn't like, Trump says he's not bragging when he talks about his success. According to the Gospel of Trump, his business savvy, his money, his stuff is all proof that he's a winner. With bravado, humour and relentless self-promotion, he has parlayed that confidence into a business empire and an international brand and now claims that he'll do the same for the country.

In the Two Americas of 2015, Trump has somehow tapped into the historic belief in the American dream, that his stuff can be your stuff, too, if you work hard enough.

And Trump lives large. Huugge. Everything is fantastic, the best, world-class. What, exactly, he owns personally or through his many corporations is difficult to distinguish - plenty of buildings with "Trump" slapped across the facade are just part of his vast licensing empire. But this much is clear: He doesn't live anything like the ordinary voter, and millions of fans love him for that.

And so we present, with verification from Trump and his campaign, a brief tour of The Donald's larger-than-life world.

The homes
His father, Fred Trump, once said that everything his son touched turned to gold. A real estate developer in Queens and Brooklyn, the elder Trump gave Donald the cash to try his hand at the Manhattan real estate market. That young Midas now rules his domain from a three-storey penthouse at the top of Trump Tower.

"If you're really successful, you'll all live just like this," Trump told contestants from a season of the Apprentice TV show standing in his living room. "Well, maybe not like this." He told another team on the show: "Some people consider it to be the greatest apartment in the world. I would never say that myself - but it's certainly a nice apartment."

Sitting atop the 68-storey glass skyscraper at 725 Fifth Avenue (also home to his corporate office), the apartment is decorated in what we'll call High Trump style. Modelled after the Palace of Versailles, it boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, hand-painted ceilings, fountains, paintings, lots of marble and the crowning glory: two huge gold-plated entrance doors. Real estate experts estimate that the penthouse would sell for at least US$100 million if it went on the market today.


Like any billionaire, Trump has country retreats. The most luxurious is Mar-a-Lago, the oceanside estate in Palm Beach, Florida, that he bought in 1985 for US$10 million. Built in 1927 by heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post, the property (on the National Register of Historic Places) sits on 8ha on what many consider the most valuable land in Florida. The mansion has 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, 12 fireplaces, a spa, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a croquet court and a golf course just minutes away.

Trump used the mansion as a private home for a decade and hosted his famous friends there (Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley honeymooned there.) In 1995, he turned it into an elite private membership club but kept private quarters for his family. After adding a 1860sq m Grand Ballroom, he married his third wife, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, at the estate in 2005, holding a reception with 500 guests that included Bill and Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Simon Cowell, Barbara Walters and Tony Bennett. Billy Joel sang Just the Way You Are.

Trump also has a place closer to New York that his family uses as a weekend retreat. Trump bought Seven Springs, a 60-room mansion in Bedford, in 1996 for US$7.5 million with plans to develop the 93ha property, but so far it remains a family getaway.

When he's in the mood for tropical breezes, there's Le Chateau Des Palmiers, his private resort on the Caribbean island of St Martin. And if he's campaigning on the West Coast, he can always crash at his Beverly Hills mansion.

And, once again proving the art of the deal, Trump snapped up the former Kluge estate in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a song. The 810ha property was the pride and joy of billionaire John Kluge and his wife, Patricia, who poured millions into the 2135sq m mansion and the winery and vineyard. But the enterprise was never a commercial success, and after Kluge's death, his widow put it on the market for US$100 million before the bank seized it. Trump first bought the vineyard and land surrounding the mansion in 2011 for US$7.9 million, then got the 45-room mansion for just US$6.5 million. It's now called Trump Vineyard Estates.

The aircraft
Da plane! Da plane!

If you're Donald Trump, you do not sit around in first class on some commercial flight. You have your own jet or two, plus a helicopter. He still has to go through security, but the line for private jet passengers is far, far shorter.

His main ride is a Boeing 757, purchased in 2011 from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and then tricked out to Trumptastic standards: Rolls-Royce engines, 24-carat-gold trim and seat-belt buckles, leather seats for up to 43 passengers, TV screens and two bedrooms in the space that would normally carry 239 people, and "TRUMP" emblazoned on the side.

The 757, valued at US$100 million, is one of the biggest and fastest corporate jets in the world, special enough for its very own documentary on the Smithsonian Channel in 2013, where viewers watched his pilot clean the upholstery with a toothbrush and wipe down the galley to meet Trump's perfectionist standards.

He also owns a Cessna Citation X corporate jet that holds 12 passengers and three US$7 million Sikorsky S-76 helicopters.

The cars
Most of the time Trump rides in a limo chauffeured by one of his two New York drivers. It's arguably the very best perk of being rich: no road rage, no circling the block for a legal parking space. When he showed up for jury duty at New York Supreme Court in Manhattan in August, his limo dropped him directly in front of the building and sat in the "no stopping anytime" zone until he came out hours later. Because he's Donald Trump.

"He's a great boss," Eddie Diaz, who has been working for the tycoon since 2000, told Newsweek. Trump, a "down-to-earth guy," uses only American cars. Foreign cars are "not allowed," Diaz says.

Perhaps not for the limos, but Trump has a handful of elite foreign cars. He's a big fan of Rolls-Royce and started with a vintage 1956 Silver Cloud; now there's a 2015 Rolls-Royce Phantom (US$500,000 and up) that he occasionally drives himself, as well as a Maybach, a Ferrari, a Cadillac Escalade and a Tesla. There's also a Mercedes-Benz S600 and an SLR McLaren (US$455,000 price tag).

The golf courses
Trump's weakness? Golf. And he's good, according to him and the people he plays with.
His holdings include more than a dozen courses, including ones in Scotland (where his mother was born), Ireland, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Trump values his 16 golf-related businesses at US$550 million or more. Experts in the field say he's wildly exaggerating: With a revenue of US$160 million, they're worth (generously) US$250 million. That doesn't account, of course, for the value of the properties as future real estate developments.

The TV shows
Although the billionaire still co-owns the Apprentice franchise with producer Mark Burnett, he no longer serves as the host of the hit NBC show. Trump says he gave up the show to run for president; media sources say the network cut him loose in June, shortly after his public comments about Hispanic immigrants.

Trump says he earned more than US$213,000 from the show, but the real value was the explosion of the Trump brand - which he now estimates to be worth US$3 billion in licensing and other deals.

NBC also pulled the plug on Trump's beauty pageant franchise - "Miss Universe," "Miss USA" and "Miss Teen USA". Trump co-owned the pageants jointly with NBC for more than a decade until the launch of his presidential campaign. After his public rift with the network, he purchased the sole rights to the pageants, then turned around and sold them to media group WME/IMG for an undisclosed amount.

The yacht
Doesn't every billionaire own a yacht? The Donald was once captain of his own mega-yacht but, sadly, sold it.

Named the Trump Princess, it was the third-largest yacht in the world at the time, boasting room for 22 passengers and 52 crew members - 11 luxury staterooms, three elevators, a movie theatre, a disco, a swimming pool and a helicopter landing deck. It was everything a sea-loving man could ask for. But Trump really wasn't much of a boat guy.
So a year after the real estate recession hit in 1990, he sold the boat to Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal for US$20 million.

The casinos
He's all out. The Trump Plaza in Atlantic City closed last year. Trump's crown jewel, the US$1.2 billion Trump Taj Mahal, is limping but still open, although Trump no longer owns it or any other casino along the boardwalk.

The hair
"What's the difference between a wet raccoon and Donald J. Trump's hair?" Trump himself asked that question during his Comedy Central roast in 2011. "A wet raccoon doesn't have seven billion (expletive) dollars in the bank."

No list of Trump's assets would be complete without his greatest pride and joy: Trump Hair. Not just any hair, but the golden blow-dry that has launched a thousand jokes, a fever dream of hair-sprayed invincibility. And, he insists, all his.

"I do not wear a toupee," he told supporters in August, pulling a woman from the audience to prove it by personally touching his very real, not-a-toupee hair.

Donald Trump: The man, the mane, the legend. If not president, maybe patron saint of the men's hair club.