• The Star Staff

Trump financial disclosure reveals a business upended by the pandemic

By Ben Protess, Steve Eder and Michael H. Keller

Over the past year, former President Donald Trump’s family business suffered steep declines in revenue as the pandemic upended the nation’s hospitality industry, according to a financial disclosure report released hours after Trump departed office Wednesday.

The report detailed a revenue drop of more than 40% at Trump’s Doral golf club outside Miami, and a 63% decline at his signature hotel in Washington, just blocks from the White House. All told, the Trump Organization declared revenue of at least $278 million in 2020 and the early days of this year, a nearly 38% decline from the company’s reported 2019 results.

The disclosure, which represents the final public snapshot of Trump’s finances, documents the toll the pandemic has taken on his luxury hospitality business, which essentially ground to a halt last spring when the coronavirus started sweeping through the country. Trump hotels and golf courses shuttered, and even after reopening, some faced restrictions on indoor dining and gatherings.

“There were places that due to government mandates we were not able to operate,” Eric Trump, the former president’s son who helps run the business, said Wednesday. “Those are places you are going to lose the season because of it.”

The Trump Organization, he said, remained stable and had steady cash flow and relatively low debt compared with other real estate businesses — although as Donald Trump left office, the company had more than $300 million in debt coming due in the next few years that the former president has personally guaranteed.

The disclosure portends greater tumult for the business, which has faced widespread shunning of its brand after the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. The violent rioting by Trump’s supporters led to his second impeachment and prompted many of the company’s corporate partners — in banking, insurance, golf and real estate — to abandon it. Morgan Lewis, the law firm that handles its taxes, became the latest to distance itself from the Trumps on Wednesday by indicating that it would not take on new business with Donald Trump or the company.

The scenes of rioters, some of them armed and dressed in animal skins, storming and looting the Capitol in Trump’s name also undermined the image of stately luxury that the Trump Organization had created and is expected to cost the president’s five-star hotels bookings and group outings.

The biggest blow came when the PGA of America announced it would strip Trump’s New Jersey golf club of a major tournament, setting off a wave of other ruptures, including a decision by New York City to cancel contracts with the Trump Organization for two ice rinks, the Central Park Carousel and the Trump Golf Links in the Bronx.

Even before the pandemic and the riot, the Trump presidency had complicated business for the Trump brand.

For much of his term, the company was stuck in neutral as the family name was removed from several properties and potential new deals never emerged. Trump’s polarizing politics also appeared to create a red-blue divide, leaving his hotels in Democratic bastions like New York and Chicago struggling while his golf club in North Carolina boomed.

One bright spot in 2020 was Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida and his intended new residence. Revenues at Mar-a-Lago rose from $21.4 million to $24.2 million, an increase of 13%. The company’s retail business also grew, more than doubling its revenues to nearly $2 million.

The Trump golf business saw mixed results. While many of the courses had losses of 10% or more, revenues rose at clubs in West Palm Beach, Florida, and another near Charlotte, North Carolina, as golf became a popular outdoor escape from the dangers of COVID-19.

But at Doral, Trump’s biggest revenue generator, revenues fell from $77.2 million in 2019 to $44.2 million, down nearly 43%.

Trump Turnberry, a golf club in Scotland, had a significant downturn last year. Revenue fell from $25.7 million to $9.8 million, about 62%, as Scottish authorities closed it because of the virus.

Some of the Trump Organization’s biggest declines came in its hotel business, as the virus halted travel and the company cut back on staff to stem its losses. The hotel in Washington, which the Trumps had considered selling before the pandemic, was particularly hard hit. The restaurant and the famed hotel lobby — long a gathering place for lobbyists, White House aides and other Trump supporters — have been closed for extended periods over the past year, and hotel occupancy is down significantly.

Donald Trump reported assets worth at least $1.3 billion, down slightly from 2019.

He also reported receiving 10 gifts, including an Ultimate Fighting Championship belt, golf gear, a leather bomber jacket and a computer from Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, worth $5,999.

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