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“This guy never paid me,” MacLeod deadpanned. In August 1990, the truth finally came out. ", Atlantic Plate and Window Glass was about three-quarters through the job and was owed some money from Resorts International before it would continue work. But for many of them, it could have happened yesterday. However, it eventually closed in 2016. Trump properties in Atlantic City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991, including the Trump Taj Mahal; Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts joined in 2004 and Trump … Trump Taj Mahal Casino Contractors Say They Were Wronged The Trump Taj Mahal Casino and Resort, which opened in 1990, finally closed on Oct. 10, at 5:59 a.m. Trump, who once bragged that he was the “King of Debt,” owed $70 million to 253 contractors who worked on the Taj and who, in turn, hired thousands of workers. The real estate mogul told state regulators in 1988 that companies that sell junk bonds were nothing but “junk” companies. That's why we keep getting work in Atlantic City." “I can’t listen to this.”. Another contractor on the Taj Mahal job who didn’t want to be named because he was afraid of being sued by Trump, said the Taj Mahal job was the … The Trump Taj Mahal was officially closed on October 10, 2016. More contractors sued Trump, but it was too late to collect what they were due. The contractor who provided the onion domes for Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million (U.S.) in losses. Is It Time To Change Director Board Compensation In Private Real Estate Firms? He ordered crystal chandeliers from Austria; hand-sewn carpets from Britain; 70 onion domes, one of them 50-foot high; the Carrara marble from Italy. As he recalled in an interview a couple weeks ago, it was a $12 or $13 million contract. Everyone laughed. That company, eventually called Trump Entertainment Resorts, went on to lose hundreds of millions over a dozen years, collapsing into bankruptcy twice. And I say, 'Give me a check.' Of Hillary Clinton, he said, "I don't know a heck of a lot about her. Then he started spending lavishly. I'm not a Democrat. Trump was denying he was in financial trouble: “I have a tremendous amount of cash,” he told the Washington Post that March. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. “I have a lot of money,” he told The New York Times at the time, “and the Taj has a lot of money.”. The contractor who supplied the Carrara Yes, We Have No Choice, Gender Bias: Trademark Act Never Contemplated A Woman Or Gay Male President, Cannabis Challenges Differ In Each State Where It’s Newly-Legal, 5 Unexpected Places To Find Your Next Great Business Idea. “He always managed to pay his bills,” says Kerr. Trump, who once bragged that he was the “King of Debt,” owed $70 million to 253 contractors who worked on the Taj and who, in turn, hired thousands of … Construction of what was originally known as the Taj Mahal commenced in 1983 by Resorts International, owner of the neighboring Resorts Casino Hotel, with an estimated budget of $250 million. Negotiations for payment, such as they were, dragged on for months. ". "I said, 'Maybe you can, but I can't do it any cheaper. ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Weak from heart surgery and a sepsis infection that would soon kill her, Patricia Paone was resting at home last summer when an apparition appeared on the TV — a famous businessman who had struck a deal with her husband years before. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File), Connect with the definitive source for global and local news, http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/bernard-condon. “My father was old school,” says Rosser. The personal bankruptcy was a “terrible blow” to him. I live in Brooklyn, New York. Do I think she's the cleanest person? The lawsuit was settled two months later for an undisclosed amount. He said, 'What's this I hear about a meeting?' That's how you make things work. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to us. But he had billed Trump $1.3 million since February, and gotten only $100,000 despite repeated requests for more, and so he exploded one day just as his son, then 24, walked up to his office door. The contractor who supplied … Tobman had been told earlier by a Trump official that the delay in sending the check was due to a “slight glitch.”, “We got to get the job done,” Tobman recalls the Trump guy saying. And I began my career peeking into the dark corners of the legal system for The American Lawyer. Taj Mahal contractors were told to take less than they were owed. (Photo: NJTV News via YouTube), America's Top Givers: The 25 Most Philanthropic Billionaires, EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Can We Save Social Media? I've also written about technology and public policy – particularly about renewable energy – for Discover and IEEE Spectrum and obscure cheese for Gourmet. “To him that was more important than a piece of paper.”. "I said, 'I want you know that you're not going to get your money right away, but you're going to get every dime. Patricia Paone’s husband, Mario, had built Hastings by hard work, and had become a respected figure in his industry. "His game was, 'If you're don't take the number I'm offering you, I'll file for bankruptcy,' " Rosenberg recalled. You can't give me a check then.' Rosenberg believes that eventually he got about 70 percent of what he was owed, though the A.P. Rosenberg was one of the hundreds of contractors that Donald Trump stopped paying in early 1990 as they raced to complete his Taj Mahal hotel and casino a … Strapped for money, some contractors sold them immediately, getting a fraction of what they were worth at maturity. “Anyone who can afford home health care doesn’t need our money. AP researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report. Said Trump: "O.K., you've got the job.". The Rosenbergs' business survived, Marty Rosenberg told me, because of the pledge it made to its own suppliers. But the contractors weren’t so sure anymore. Others caught up in the Taj turmoil didn’t fare as well. Some couldn’t afford the negative cash flow, and the money squeeze started rippling out from company to company. She recalls him breaking down in tears at a Cape May restaurant a few years after the casino’s bankruptcy. Lundy, the contractor with the sick grandfather, also took Trump up on his offer of working for him in Atlantic City again. Marty Rosenberg, former vice president of Atlantic Plate Glass, was among two dozen contractors and their survivors caught in the aftermath of the Taj bankruptcy who were interviewed by The Associated Press. “What he did was wrong.”, On June 12, Molded Fiber Glass sued for the $3 million it was owed. As he was walking into a meeting with contractors to share strategies about how to deal with Trump, landscaper Herman Caucci asked him what he planned to do: Stick it out in hopes of getting all he was owed, or take cash at a discount? An invoice sent a few weeks earlier for $1.4 million still hadn’t been paid. During the early days of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, more than 50,000 people came to visit every day. One of the hardest hit was John Millar, a marble supplier who was owed $3.9 million. Photo by Raul654 on Wikimedia Commons When I'm not thinking about small business, I'm dreaming about trains, and hunting down old railroad artifacts. Ways Entrepreneurs Can Stretch Their Capital, 2 Million Professionals Polled On How To Make Virtual Conferences Better— Here Are Their Top 10 Hacks, Subscribe Now: Forbes Entrepreneurs & Small Business Newsletters. Millar is deceased. He later folded the Taj into a publicly traded company holding other casinos. "I spoke to my brother and said, " 'Harry, we've got a problem.' Then he got an idea. Still, like some others among the contractors contacted by the AP, Lundy doesn’t believe Trump acted badly given the hardball, sometimes unscrupulous nature of industry. The contractor who supplied the Carrara marble from Italy ended up filing for personal bankruptcy. The contractor who put in the bathroom partitions had to lay off his brother. His lawyer said McGahn won some money from Trump in a settlement, but did not remember the amount. Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., nearly flushed Forest Jenkins’ company Triad Building Services down the toilet. He rarely lost his temper. In November 1990, Trump missed a payment to his junk bond investors. Company employees, including Eric Rosenberg, a senior vice president, declined to speak with Forbes. Her father never made it out of seventh grade, she says, and built his businesses on trust, no contracts. Millar eventually had to lay off workers, shut down his business Avalon Commercial, close many of his retail stores and borrow from friends to make ends meet, according to court documents and Millar’s lawyers and former employees. "I have no animosity toward Donald Trump," he told me. Trump also threw in a “right of first refusal,” meaning the contractors would get future work at the Taj if they matched the best bid from others. “Anytime I went to Atlantic City and I’d see that Trump sign, I’d think of the little guys,” says bankruptcy lawyer Arthur Abramowitz who worked with contractors for years after the casino itself went bankrupt. “You have to be very rough and very tough with most contractors,” he wrote in his 1987 book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” ″or they’ll take the shirt right off your back.”. By then, he had been paid somewhere between $11 and $12 million. ", I have reported on entrepreneurs, and the politics and policies that affect them, for The New York Times and Inc. magazine, among others, for more than a decade. Rosenberg, who's now 73, left the family business a short time later for reasons that he declined to explain, except to say that it had nothing to do with the problems with Trump. Soon after the opening, Trump owed $70 million to 253 contractors employing thousands who built the domes and minarets, put up the glass and drywall, laid the pipes and installed everything from chandeliers to bathroom fixtures. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks and Trump attorney Alan Garten did not respond to a list of questions about the candidate’s Taj dealings. BOSTON -- Donald Trump is in arrears on more than $50 million in contractors' bills for his Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, the construction manager of the project said Monday. After the Taj opened in April 1990, the self-anointed “King of Debt” owed $70 million to 253 contractors employing thousands who built the domes and minarets, put up the glass and drywall, laid the pipes and installed everything from chandeliers to bathroom fixtures. Marty Rosenberg, who was installing floor-to-ceiling curtain walls of glass, picked up the phone in his Atlantic City office and called one of Trump’s men overseeing construction. Resorts head James Crosby said it might be named the United States Hotel, in reference to the city's first major hotel. But for Paone and others like her — the dozens of contractors and their families who never got all they were owed — it could have happened yesterday. "I knew where I was going with Trump," Rosenberg said. Trump asked him. Trump officials denied the charge, but the judge overseeing the case expressed frustration with the varying reasons they had given in depositions for not paying — and raised the specter of an investigation for perjury, according to published reports at the time. Giving a slide presentation of his work to an architectural firm two days after Trump swept the New York Republican primary in April, he slipped in two photos — one showing one of the elephants, the other showing Trump’s name on the casino marquee in red lights. Trump Taj Bankruptcy Left Many Contractors Angry June 30, 2016 8:27 am ET The contractor who provided the onion domes for the Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million in losses. While the casino was not a complete failure, it did not make the kind of money it needed. He brought the photos to a Trump lawyer named Patrick McGahn, a no-nonsense ex-Marine. Trump had a reputation as a relentless haggler with contractors, always suspecting that they were cheating him. I've…. Marty Rosenberg insisted that this was not the same company as Atlantic Plate and Window Glass, but would not elaborate. “Pay me my money!”. During construction on the Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1990, records show that Trump failed to pay at least 253 subcontractors in full or on time. McGahn, a powerful figure in South Jersey circles, died in 2000. Millar built back the retail side of his business to 14 stores before dying in 2008. Meanwhile, his nephews now run a glass glazing company called APG International. When the casino emerged from Chapter 11, Trump got a contract to manage it. “He would shake your hand and look you in the eye,” says his son, Philip Paone. The company helped with the roof of the Trump Parc East, a residential building overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, according to Tobman. Nobody's saying it didn't hurt. "My plan was simple: I would call a meeting at Resorts International. He laughed. Molded Fiber Glass never removed its domes, choosing instead to join with Lundy and 46 others in a negotiated settlement with Trump for cash equal to 33 cents of each dollar owed, plus 50 cents in convertible bonds, according to Morrison’s book. ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The contractor who provided the onion domes for the Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million in losses. He filed suit, charging that Trump never paid him in full for his work. Those who entrusted him with their funds or labor, including employees, vendors and bond and stockholders, often fared less well. “We took a beating,” former Hastings controller Howard Black says. Casino in Atlantic City. “Put in as many hours as you have to — unlimited overtime.”. The Republican nominee is a callous businessman. The next year, when the casino collapsed into bankruptcy, those owed the most got only 33 cents in cash for each dollar owed, with promises of another 50 cents later. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City's Taj Mahal … Marty Rosenberg introduces Hillary Clinton at a rally in front of the former Trump Plaza Hotel and... [+] Casino in Atlantic City. The contractors could band together to negotiate for payment. "There are parts of both parties that I agree with, and parts that I disagree with." "I didn't get a check, and that check was for $1.2 - $1.3 million.". “I really need the money,” Lundy said as he handed over photos of his grandfather. History Trump Taj Mahal era: 1990–2016. "If the Taj Mahal had been started by Donald trump, we would never have taken the job. As for MacLeod, the sculptor of the elephants outside the Taj, he says his anger over the episode has faded, and he can joke now about how he once got stiffed by a famous billionaire. To finance the Taj, he claimed he could borrow at low prime rates from banks because, as he testified, big banks were calling him “all the time,” begging him to take out loans. He said, ' I can get this job cheaper,' " Rosenberg recalled. © 2021 Forbes Media LLC. It took years to get the rest, assuming the companies survived long enough to collect. A quarter of a century has passed since Donald Trump refused to pay in full 253 contractors who help build his Taj … “I took a big hit.”. “I don’t know, Herman, I need the money,” Caucci recalls Millar responding before the March 1990 meeting. Rosenberg was one of the hundreds of contractors that Donald Trump stopped paying in early 1990 as they raced to complete his Taj Mahal hotel and casino a few blocks away. (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about this episode.) The Trump Taj Mahal casino and hotel, owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., stands in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., on Sunday, May 8, 2016. The company refused to comment. Rosenberg went to New York to meet with Trump. Steven P. Perskie, New Jersey’s top casino regulator in the early 1990s, said about Trump, “He put a number of local contractors and suppliers out of business when he didn’t pay them.” Didn’t pay construction bill: When Trump declared the Taj Mahal hotel as bankrupt, it nearly caused the collapse of Trias Building Specialties. I respect her service. The contractor who provided the onion domes atop the Taj had to eat $2 million in losses. My relationship with Trump began in 1989, when he asked me to supply several grand and upright pianos to his then-new Taj Mahal … Construction on the project was troubled from the start. In this April 5, 1990 file photo, Donald Trump raises his fist during ceremonies for the opening the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J. W hen Donald Trump opened the towering Trump Taj Mahal Casino in ... of job losses and put dozens of local contractors out of ... $500m makeover of Trump’s Taj … I have reported on entrepreneurs, and the politics and policies that affect them, for The New York Times and Inc. magazine, among others, for more than a decade. Of all the real estate and casino deals in Trump’s long career, the Taj arguably sheds the most light on how the would-be U.S. president handles crises. His story began in the 1980s, when Resorts International hired the family company to install the glass curtain walls on its 51-story tower. “I’ll check it out, Marty, and call you right back,” the man said. It took years to get the rest, assuming the companies survived long enough to collect. (Photo: NJTV News via YouTube), Earlier this month, when Hillary Clinton spoke on the Atlantic City boardwalk, she was introduced by a man who was not there to praise her, but to bury Donald Trump. One of the reasons some contractors heard for the delay in pay: Trump said he needed to complete audits first to make sure they weren’t overcharging. She knows people. Many contractors didn’t know what to think. But, he added, "she has some background in the world. Bernard Condon can be reached at http://twitter.com/BernardFCondon His work can be found at: http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/bernard-condon, The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org, FILE - In this April 5, 1990 file photo, Donald Trump stands next to a genie's lamp as the lights of his Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort light up during ceremonies to mark its opening in Atlantic City, N.J. The bonds would eventually pay in full, but the holders had to wait at least several years. But Trump raked in $82 million in fees and salary and bonuses, according to Fortune magazine estimates. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal casino. Rosenberg, whom Trump would eventually owe $1.1 million, walked down the hall and entered his brother’s office. At the opening of Trump’s Taj Mahal in 1990, he owed $70 million to various contractors. The place was still unfinished, with the facade facing the Atlantic Ocean lacking much of its ornamentation. Trump, after becoming the presumptive Republican nominee at least a month earlier than even he expected, hes being hammered by Democrats and denied the welcome mat from his own party. Rosenberg, according to the A.P., held $1.1 million of that debt. Desperate for cash, contractors became easy targets for a new offer from Trump: Agree to less than they billed, and he’d pay the lower amounts immediately. Trump asked how much more money it would take to finish the work, and Rosenberg told him, between $1 million and $3 million. , Rosenberg called the 20 or 30 suppliers to whom he still owed money for the Taj work. The initial construction of the … After he sold his stake in the company in the early 2000s he became a real estate agent for a few years. ‘Booking.com’ Is A Trademark – Does This Matter To Your Business? Morrison of Molded Fiber Glass was getting desperate for his money and so he turned to Irwin Tobman, a field supervisor in Atlantic City overseeing the installation of the domes and minarets. “I’m trying to take care of him.”. It was his biggest gamble, the “eighth wonder of the world,” as he dubbed it. Lupu had started with Trump in 1984, when he opened the Trump Plaza. Trump financed the Taj with high-interest “junk” bonds — a method even he disdained. But we'd never do that. reports that contractors got 30 percent upfront and 50 percent more in junk bonds. The trouble wasn’t enough to keep Molded Fiber Glass from doing work for Trump again. You may opt-out by. Other contractors tried more subtle means to get their money. The stress was also building at Hastings Pavement, the company doing the paving work. "The day of the meeting, which was around lunch time, I get a telephone call, from Donald's attorney. Caucci, who himself was owed more than $500,000, says Millar agreed to take 10 cents on the dollar, but court documents suggest he got about 30 cents on the dollar over the next year. Even as Resorts struggled to finish the project, it still managed to periodically pay Atlantic Plate and Window Glass, Rosenberg said. Thomas Roofing did not respond to phone calls for comment. A quarter of a century has passed since Donald Trump refused to pay in full 253 contractors who help build his Taj in Atlantic City. Next " Recovering what they were owed would take time and a lot of money. Opening day was pushed back twice, to April 2, only six weeks before a $47 million bond payment came due. The place was marketed as the eighth wonder of the world, and the world’s biggest casino. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal casino. Five hundred miles away, in Ashtabula, Ohio, Robert Morrison of the Molded Fiber Glass Co. was pressing his workers to finish the domes and minarets and other faux Moorish ornaments in time for the April opening — and worrying about who was going to pay for all of it. If he had to sell everything quickly, according to accountants Kenneth Leventhal & Co., he’d be worth as little as negative $295 million. That was the only time Rosenberg ever met Donald Trump. "If we were planning to go out of business, we could do what Donald Trump did. A few days later, its lawyers ratcheted up the pressure; they threatened to remove the domes from the Taj and cart them away. ATLANTIC CITY — Contractors for Hard Rock International were busy Wednesday removing the iconic fountain that once greeted guests at the entrance to Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. Thomas Roofing, owed $1 million for HVAC work and a roof, argued that Trump officials committed fraud because they “misrepresented” that they had enough money to pay though they knew they didn’t, thereby inducing the company to keep working. The casino opened, not quite finished, in April. Two months later, Molded Fiber Glass was still waiting. He grabbed a camera and began shooting. Between 1990 and 1996, Mr. Trump persuaded creditors to revamp his original restructuring agreement again and again. McGahn, Trump’s tough-guy lawyer who fended off contractors who felt shortchanged, ended up feeling shortchanged, too. He pressed Trump’s people again, and got a familiar answer: You’ll get the money in two weeks, no problem. “A handshake meant everything.”. Court records reviewed by the Associated Press show that Trump owed $70 million to 253 contractors. All the trials and triumphs of building a business – delivered to your inbox. "It hurt. ", And his former client? I'm a free thinker," he said. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. You need to give me some leverage and some time.' The contractor who put in the bathroom partitions had to lay off his brother. The New York Post headline: “The Taj May Go Topless.”. A year later, when the casino collapsed into bankruptcy, those owed the most got only 33 cents in cash for each dollar owed, with promises of another 50 cents later. “I want my money!” Philip recalls his father screaming into the phone. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City's Taj Mahal … "Absolutely, we always do. ", "Are you going to do a good job?" For the contractors, the first signs of trouble came in February 1990. Trump's bankruptcy meant that several contractors were never paid for their work and materials. "At the end of the job, I did not get my requisition," he said. Lawsuits began piling up. A toilet maker in Atlantic City It was 1988 when Forest Jenkins won a $200,000 contract to install toilet partitions at Trump's Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He called the Trump Organization and was told, "Marty, you'll have your check in two weeks." But Morrison paid them anyway, Tobman recalls, by borrowing the money. A day later, he got his answer: The money’s coming in two weeks. Either way, the money wasn’t enough. "I would never have taken a junk bond," Rosenberg said. “It wasn’t just the money; a lot of these guys went into depression.”. Eight months later, the Trump Taj filed for bankruptcy. Trump was “stringing us along,” says Tobman. The contractor who supplied the Carrara marble from Italy ended up filing for personal bankruptcy. Rosenberg finished the work in February 1990. As Lundy tells it, Trump’s lawyer made quick work of the ruse. But I told him, I have plan. Later in 1988, Trump acquired the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a transaction with Merv Griffin and Resorts International. After college, Rosenberg said, he joined the family business, Atlantic Plate and Window Glass. " He didn't get his check. Marble man Millar eventually stopped paying credit card bills, dues for a private club, then his state taxes. No." “It was hard for him.”. By the start of 1990, Trump was desperate for the contractors to finish so he could begin taking money from slots players and high rollers. “He’s a crook!” she roared, according to a son who was with her that day. He died in 2010. Trump bought a controlling stake in Resorts in 1987 and took full ownership of the Taj in late 1988. He continued to dismiss rumors that he was in financial trouble, but regulatory documents released later showed otherwise. But "as the president of the Untied States, he scares the death out of me. George Jenkins, the bathroom partition man who had to lay off his brother, was shocked when Trump balked at paying the $232,000 he was owed, according to his daughter, Beth Rosser. Creditors ultimately agreed to a restructuring of the Taj Mahal's debts, and the company was in and out of bankruptcy court in just six weeks. Two weeks passed and no check arrived. "I didn't say, 'if I get 20 percent of my money, you'll get 20 percent of your money.' Tobman says Trump’s cash crunch left Morrison with no money to pay the dozen companies he had hired to help with the Taj work. The casino was opened in April 1990, and was built at a total cost of $1.1 billion, which at the time made it the most expensive casino ever built. It was April 1990, and Mr. Trump was officially opening his third gambling resort in Atlantic City, the biggest project of his career: the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal. Regular checks for work completed stopped arriving in the mail. Soon after the opening, Trump owed $70 million to 253 contractors employing thousands who built the domes and minarets, put up the glass and drywall, … Among the sellers was Morrison of Molded Fiber Glass, according to Tobman, his man in Atlantic City. I would rent a room not a unit, but a large room, and send an invitation to every contractor we knew was on the job." Far from being overstretched, he told Newsweek, he was looking to expand: “I think the people with a lot of cash —and I have a lot of cash — are going to be able to make beautiful deals in the next few years.”, “Naturally, you assumed you’d get paid,” Molded Fiber Glass CEO Morrison wrote in a book about the Taj published in 1994. Frank Lundy, owed $580,000 for overseeing construction clean-up at the Taj, was visiting his sick grandfather; the older man’s face was half frozen from a stroke, tubes sticking out his arms. No other way but to pay their workers and suppliers bills, says! Paone ’ s coming in two weeks. Taj had to lay off his brother s... Trump bought a controlling stake in the mail with high-interest “ junk ” companies not quite finished, in shifts! Was around lunch time, I get a check, and that check was for $ million. Years after the casino emerged from Chapter 11, Trump got a contract to it! It any cheaper job cheaper, ' I can ’ t know what think! Me a check then. 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