Questions are swirling on social media about the value of Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago, Florida, residence after a New York judge said it was far lower than the figure claimed by the estate’s presidential owner.
In a ruling concerning a fraud case against the former president, his sons and the Trump Organization on Tuesday, Judge Arthur Engoron found that they had overvalued several of Trump’s properties, including his club resort in the Sunshine State.
He wrote that while the Palm Beach County assessor had appraised Mar-a-Lago’s market value to be between $18 million and $27.6 million, Trump had put it at between $426.5 million to $612.1 million in filings—”an overvaluation of at least 2,300 percent.”
“A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud,” Engoron said.
Trump and his sons responded with incredulity to the ruling, which ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses in New York be rescinded over the years-long fraud and that the companies that own his properties should be handed over to independent receivers.
In a statement on his Truth Social platform, Trump described the ruling as a “radical attack” that was politically motivated—which is what he has said about all the cases against him—adding: “As an example, this Democrat Operative valued Mar-a-Lago, the most spectacular and valuable property in Palm Beach, Florida, to be worth as low as $18 million, when in actuality, it could be worth almost 100 times that amount.”
“In an attempt to destroy my father and kick him out of New York, a Judge just ruled that Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach Florida, is only worth approximate [sic] ‘$18 million dollars’ … Mar-a-Lago is speculated to be worth we’ll [sic] over a billion dollars,” Eric Trump, the former president’s second-eldest son, wrote in an X, formerly Twitter, post.
Elsewhere, he shared listings for other houses on the market in Palm Beach, with prices ranging between $38.9 million and $59.9 million, despite being seemingly far smaller than Mar-a-Lago.
Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son, joked in a tweet: “If Mar-a-Lago is worth $18 million… I’ll take 10 please!”
Since the ruling emerged, some on social media have speculated as to what the true value of the property might be, suspecting the figures quoted in the court case were incorrect.
“A nearby vacant lot (2.3 acres) is for sale on Zillow for $200 million,” John LeFevre, a former investment banker who created the Goldman Sachs Elevator social media account, wrote alongside a screengrab of the listing. “Mar-a-Lago sits on 17 acres, with waterfront on both sides.”
He added: “The primary point is this: The lending bank is required to get a valuation from a third party to cover its LTV calculation. No one had an issue with any of this. Everyone made money…Until an activist [District Attorney] came along decades later,” a reference to Letitia James, who brought the case.
Ali Zein Yousuf, a software engineer, replied: “You’re right, if it was priced at the same per acre as the empty lot, it’d be [$]1.5 billion.”
There are competing estimates as to the size of the estate; several publications have said it spans 17 acres, while the club’s website says it is 20 acres. According to the asking price of the empty lot listing, this would in theory give the property a value of $1.47 billion to $1.72 billion, but that doesn’t take into account the development potential of the empty plot, or the value of the Mar-a-Lago buildings.
However, some noted that it may be the historic nature of the resort, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1969, that makes it monetarily less valuable to a potential buyer.
“While $27 million is obviously an undervaluation, Mar-A-Lago can’t be developed or turned into a single-family estate,” James Surowiecki, a financial journalist, commented. “Its deed requires it to remain a club, which radically reduces its re-sale value.”
Property listings company Zillow currently gives the estate an estimated value of $24.2 million. It fell into hot water in August after erroneously suggesting Mar-a-Lago had been sold for $422 million, prompting speculation.
Lawyers for Trump have said they intend to appeal the decision, describing it to Reuters as a “miscarriage of justice.” Other elements of the case are pending, awaiting trial.
Newsweek approached the Palm Beach County property appraiser via email for comment on Wednesday.
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