Donald Trump is unquestionably the wealthiest person to have inhabited the White House, but getting an exact figure on his net worth? That’s a tricky undertaking.
Part of the challenge is that the sprawling enterprise that he still owns, The Trump Organization, is a private entity that isn’t required to publish financial statements as a publicly traded company would be. While NBC News reported in 2015 that Trump claimed in a press release that he was worth more than $10 billion, that’s widely regarded as more bravado than reality.
The New York Times published information from Trump's tax returns on Sept. 27, 2020, but that did not provide any details about his net worth, as tax returns do not disclose this metric.
Estimates from multiple outside sources put Trump's net fortune, though still considerable, at a far lower value. Perhaps the most cited valuation is from Forbes, which in April 2020 assessed the former president’s net worth at $2.1 billion. That figure reflects a major slide from his estimated $3.1 billion fortune just a month earlier, before COVID-19 decimated the commercial real estate and hospitality industries.
- The former president still owns The Trump Organization.
- Trump is required to submit a financial disclosure document every year, although those numbers are presented in wide ranges and don’t provide an accurate look at his net worth.
- In April of 2020, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth—that is, assets minus liabilities—at $2.1 billion. That’s about $1 billion lower than their valuation at the beginning of the year.
Trump has notoriously refused to publish his tax returns, which makes determining his income very difficult, tax returns do not contain a person's net worth. Former President Donald Trump completed the annual financial disclosure forms that presidents are required to submit through the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
However, it is virtually impossible to determine Trump's net worth based on his government financial disclosures. The most recent disclosure, which was for the year 2019 and was released in July of 2020, listed extremely broad ranges for the values of his properties. For example, many of his properties were listed as being worth "over $50 million." This is compounded by the fact that these estimates are self-reported, unaudited, and clash with numbers the Trump Organization has reported to state and local tax officials.
When it comes to Donald Trump’s actual wealth, approximations from outlets such as Forbes are probably the closest we can get. The finance-oriented media firm certainly doesn’t have precise values for every property that The Trump Organization, now being run by sons Donald Jr. and Eric, owns. However, its team does look at transaction data and the stock value of related businesses to see where those numbers likely are now.
In April, Forbes put Trump’s net worth at roughly $2.1 billion, reflecting a sudden drop in value brought on by the pandemic. But even in the pre-coronavirus days, Forbes placed his overall worth at $3.1 billion, far short of what Trump suggested he possessed while running for office in 2015. That’s remarkably close to another source, the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, which placed the former president’s pre-coronavirus net worth at $2.97 billion.
While the bulk of Trump’s assets lie in commercial real estate holdings, he has interests in a number of different industries. Here is a breakdown of Forbes’s most recent estimate.
Commercial Real Estate – $1.2 billion
Much of Trump’s wealth is tied to a handful of multiuse buildings in Manhattan, including 125,000 square feet of retail real estate in the usually busy Midtown district. With the coronavirus keeping would-be shoppers at home, the value of those properties has taken a big hit. Commercial properties that were worth roughly $1.9 billion before the pandemic are now valued at $1.2 billion.
Residential Real Estate – $148 million
Trump’s vast real estate empire includes approximately 500 residential units throughout the United States. While it’s difficult to appraise those with precision, Forbes lowered its valuation of those units from $235 million to $148 million this spring, in part based on the lower stock price of publicly traded companies that operate in the same sector.
Hospitality – $38 million
Times have been tough for hoteliers around the country, and The Trump Organization is no exception. The company’s hospitality holdings, including the Trump International Hotel down the street from the White House, are now valued at $38 million. Before COVID-19 took hold, the projected value was $107 million.
Hotel Licensing and Management – $42 million
When you’re as famous as Donald Trump, you don’t need to put money on the line in order to make money on real estate—you can also license your last name to other developers who want to plaster it on their own buildings. As of 2017 The Trump Organization had no fewer than 50 licensing or management agreements throughout the world.
Golf Courses – $217 million
The Trump Organization owns a number of exclusive golf properties, from Colts Head, N.J., to Dubai. While players are still able to hit the links at most of those courses, the steep price of membership doesn’t make them recession-proof. Forbes puts their combined value at $217 million, down from $271 million prior to the coronavirus.
Other Properties – $295 million
Some of the president’s exclusive clubs are holding up fairly well, despite an economy that’s hobbling along. “Mar-a-Lago is valued more like a billionaire’s trophy than an operating business, which seems to shield the impact of the current downturn,” writes Dan Alexander of Forbes.
Cash – $160 million
Among rainy day funds, the former president’s isn’t too shabby. Forbes approximates that Trump held $160 million in cash even before the health crisis. In a year where property values and stocks have been beaten up, it’s one asset class that hasn’t lost value.
The Bottom Line
Because he runs a complex, privately owned enterprise, getting an accurate read-out on Donald Trump’s net worth is an all but impossible task. One thing is for sure, though: The former president’s past claims about his net worth—even in the pre-coronavirus days—seem to be widely inflated. A more recent analysis by Forbes puts his current fortune at just over $2 billion.