Donald Trump’s fame takes off as his marriage & finances fall apart

The Trump Timeline

Sources linked at end of page.


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The New York Times reports that investors are ditching their Trump’s Castle casino bonds with little reason to re-invest in the near future, leaving Trump carrying the debt of his heavily leveraged real estate ventures.

Donald J. Trump’s marriage is not the only one of his important relationships that is not working out these days. His rapport with the ”junk bond” market – whose contribution to his success arguably approaches that of his estranged wife, Ivana – has become equally rocky…

The tabloids may debate the roots of the Trumps’ marital discord, but there is little doubt about why bondholders have grown so chilly toward Mr. Trump’s mortgage issues. The coupon-clipping crowd is worried about three things: debt levels, real estate values and the casino industry.

The New York Times, 02/18/1990

By now, Trump and his businesses have amassed over $3.4 billion in debt. He’s personally liable for $832.5 million of the bag. The alleged billionaire has invested $29 million in a yacht, $365 million in an airline, and $407 million in the Plaza Hotel. All are losing money.

Rather than focus on fixing his finances, Trump spends his time making the most out of his failing marriage. He begins showing up anywhere he knows he’ll be photographed. He has his lawyers send daily statements to the press. While his businesses and personal life are in the garbage, Trump becomes more famous and more talked about than ever before. Ivana does her best to keep up. The Trump name covers something Donald Trump doesn’t have to buy: the tabloids.

The deep secret of all the Trump coverage is that it is cost-effective news — Nielsen ratings and newsstand sales aside. Everything is easily available: the lawyers’ statements by fax, the PR quote for the day, the file footage of all the principals, the photo opportunities at convenient midtown locations — near news offices and TV studios. Trump vs Trump is accessible. That’s why it may run forever.

Edwin Diamond, New York Magazine, 1990

External Sources

The New York Times – 1990 (Archived)

The New York Times – 2016 (Archived)

The Moscow Project (Archived)

Harry Hurt, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump (1993)

Sarah Kendzior, Hiding In Plain Sight (2020), p. 72-73

Photo: The New York Times

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