In April, Trump said his private-jet LLC was worth no more than $1,001. Then in July, he said it was worth up to $25 million. Why?

   2023-09-14 17:09

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the stage after speaking during an event at his Mar-a-Lago home on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.

In April, after declaring his candidacy for president, Donald Trump filed a personal financial disclosure as required. Then, in July, he filed a revised disclosure, with some holdings valued at 5,000 times or more their stated value in April.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Revised Trump ethics filings show massive shifts in the value of some Trump entities.



  • Trump claims to own $2.8 million in Ethereum cryptocurrency and $100,000 to $250,000 in gold bars.

  • Trump did not break out earnings on deals for trademarks he’s registered in Iran, China, Ukraine, and other foreign countries.

How much is Donald Trump really worth?

For decades, the former president has structured his finances in such a way as to make that question almost impossible to answer. His assets are divided among a web of interlocking LLCs. Their stated value fluctuates wildly, rising when the Trump Organization approaches banks to seek credit, and then declining when it’s time to pay taxes. Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, has alleged that Trump’s creative approach to bookkeeping amounts to fraud. But that doesn’t seem to have convinced Trump that he needs to stick with one set of numbers.

Two sets of Trump’s 2023 financial disclosures show vastly different valuations for a number of Trump entities. The first disclosure, filed in April, was Trump’s required filing as a presidential candidate. The second one, in July, revised the statements made by the first.

The most extreme example is TAG Air, Inc. The company is one of a number of Trump entities associated with the former president’s Boeing 757-200. In an April filing with the Office of Government Ethics, Trump claimed that the TAG Air had a value of $1,001 or less. Then, in a revised July filing, Trump valued TAG Air at between $5 million and $25 million.

In the mere three months that elapsed between the two disclosures, Trump’s estimate of TAG Air’s value jumped by a factor of 5,000 or more. It’s unclear what prompted Trump’s accountants to make such a drastic change. Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, did not respond to a request for comment.

During the 2016 campaign, taxpayers reportedly paid TAG Air $1.6 million to cover the cost of transporting the Secret Service agents charged with protecting him. A person who has dealt with Trump in the past told Insider that the changing valuation could be driven by worries that James’s New York case could use the old forms, with the lower figures, as evidence in her case. “Trump has always played fast and loose with numbers,” they said. “Now that sloppiness is coming to an end. All of a sudden, because of litigation and discovery, he has to provide accurate information.”

Trump’s two financial disclosure forms—which can be read in full below—reveal a bewildering array of assets. In addition to vanilla investments in large-cap stocks, municipal bonds, and Treasuries, Trump holds at least $100,000 worth of physical gold bars and $2.8 million in Ethereum, an open-source cryptocurrency with a market capitalization second only to Bitcoin. He has trademarks registered in countries across the globe. These include the US adversary Iran and geopolitical hotspots like Ukraine, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and South Korea. Listings for China-registered trademarks alone fill more than five pages. It’s difficult to assess how much foreign money Trump might be making from these deals as the disclosure said income from his trademark licenses “is reported at various lines throughout the report,” passing through other Trump entities, which means that it isn’t broken out by source country.

Here is Trump’s first financial disclosure form, filed in April:

And here is Trump’s revised financial disclosure form, from July, in two parts. The first part:

The second part:

TAG Air is one of many Trump-owned corporations that, by Trump’s own accounting, experienced a staggering jump in assessed value only weeks after their initial disclosure.

Trump’s TIGL Ireland Management Limited soared from an initial value of $1,001 or less to a range of $1 million to $5 million. The company manages Trump’s hotel and golf course in Ireland and sent the Secret Service a bill for then-Vice President Mike Pence’s 2019 visit to Ireland. Briarcliff Manor Development LLC, a company that has come under direct scrutiny by Attorney General James, saw the same movement between valuation ranges, showing an apparent gain of one thousand times or more.

The change in valuations could possibly reflect Trump-controlled companies paying off liabilities such as loans, which would then increase the value of the entities that borrowed, according Richard W. Painter, the former chief White House ethics lawyer and a professor at the University of Minnesota law school. But, Painter said, it’s impossible to know for sure.

“We have no idea what’s going on,” said Painter, who has testified before Congress on the need for a bigger window into candidates’ finances. “We shouldn’t have to guess. If you have someone who is running for president and they have an LLC, we should know what’s in it, what it owes, and where its revenue is coming from. If the LLC has debt, are they borrowing from Chase Manhattan Bank, or are they borrowing from the Russians? We don’t know, and we ought to know.”

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