THE ART OF THE STEAL
The donald scored his new virginia b&b, in the shadow of thomas Jeferson’s monticello, for pennies on the dollar.
The tangled history of Donald Trump’s new Virginia B&B.
IN MAY Donald Trump and his son Eric opened the ten-room Trump Albemarle Estate, a lavish bed-and-breakfast (rooms start at $399 a night this summer) near Charlottesville, Va. in a manse that—in case you’ve been living in the bottom of a chardonnay barrel for the last couple of decades—formerly belonged to the late media billionaire John Kluge, once America’s richest man. Trump paid just a fraction of the assessed worth of the property, which has a tangled history.
trump, taking advantage of recently relaxed local lodging bylaws, opens albemarle estate as a bed-and-breakfast.
trump fnally buys albemarle house from bofa for $6.7 million, completing his acquisition of the entire estate.
patricia fles for personal bankruptcy.
trump purchases the 776acre vineyard for $6.2 million, plus $1.7 million in equipment and inventory. he sticks signs out front: “no trespassing. this land is owned by trump virginia acquisitions llc.” he lets the lawn go unmowed.
an attempted auction of the winery attracts no bids, and patricia’s lenders close in. farm credit of the virginias takes possession of the winery after it fails to sell at auction; a month later southern national bancorp of virginia forecloses on vineyard estates.
an additional lender, bank of america, fles to foreclose on albemarle house proper, alleging that patricia defaulted on $23 million in loans. before that auction donald trump quietly cuts a deal with the trustees for patricia’s son, John
kluge Jr., to buy 217 acres that surround the mansion for less than $500,000. the deal also gives trump right of frst refusal to match the purchase price of any attempt to buy the house. at auction trump bids a lowball $3.6 million. it’s not enough; bofa takes possession.
patricia takes out some $65 million in loans to expand wine production and makes plans to build a luxe subdivision, vineyard estates, with 24 multimillion-dollar homes (it will never be completed).
patricia lists albemarle house for $100 million. in early 2010 she slashes the price to $48 million. still no takers.
kluge wines are well received (they’re served at chelsea clinton’s wedding), but winery fnances are a mess. to help pay creditors, patricia auctions personal property and albemarle house furnishings, reaping $15.1 million for 933 items. in september John kluge dies at 95.
John kluge and his third wife, patricia, build albemarle house on 22 acres south of charlottesville. the 23,500-square-foot manor boasts 45 rooms, a helipad, stables and a private chapel.
forbes declares kluge, with a net worth of $5.2 billion, america’s richest person. we later call him a “cheapskate billionaire” for skinfint habits like leaving his hat and coat in his car to avoid having to tip restaurant coat checkers.
kluge and patricia, a onetime nude model and actress, divorce; patricia settles for an estimated $100 million, plus albemarle house.
patricia and third husband, william moses,
establish the kluge estate winery & vineyard on 960 acres near the house.