The company refused to comment. “We got next to nothing,” says Michael MacLeod, whose 40-person studio made the giant elephant statues at the entrance to Taj. "At the end of the job, I did not get my requisition," he said. " Recovering what they were owed would take time and a lot of money. "I said, 'Maybe you can, but I can't do it any cheaper. Between 1990 and 1996, Mr. Trump persuaded creditors to revamp his original restructuring agreement again and again. Many contractors didn’t know what to think. He died in 2010. He pressed Trump’s people again, and got a familiar answer: You’ll get the money in two weeks, no problem. ", "Are you going to do a good job?" 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. The Trump Taj Mahal – often called Trump's most ambitious project – was ridden with problems from the beginning. The contractor who provided the onion domes for Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million (U.S.) in losses. "If we were planning to go out of business, we could do what Donald Trump did. But we had the ability to get our creditors off our case for a time, and we had a bank line that gave us working capital to carry us over.". ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The contractor who provided the onion domes for the Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million in losses. The Rosenbergs' business survived, Marty Rosenberg told me, because of the pledge it made to its own suppliers. AP researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report. Two weeks passed and no check arrived. Rosenberg, according to the A.P., held $1.1 million of that debt. But Trump raked in $82 million in fees and salary and bonuses, according to Fortune magazine estimates. Among the sellers was Morrison of Molded Fiber Glass, according to Tobman, his man in Atlantic City. 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. 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. 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. 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. Tobman drove his staff hard, in three shifts — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “A handshake meant everything.”. McGahn, Trump’s tough-guy lawyer who fended off contractors who felt shortchanged, ended up feeling shortchanged, too. reports that contractors got 30 percent upfront and 50 percent more in junk bonds. He laughed. Casino in Atlantic City. We could lose everything.”. © 2021 Forbes Media LLC. “To him that was more important than a piece of paper.”. As he recalled in an interview a couple weeks ago, it was a $12 or $13 million contract. The initial construction of the … The bonds would eventually pay in full, but the holders had to wait at least several years. But I said, 'Once I organize this meeting, there's no stopping this. "I would never have taken a junk bond," Rosenberg said. 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. No." 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. 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. Lawsuits began piling up. Documents filed with regulators suggest Trump gave Paone about a third of what he was owed over the next year. (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? As Lundy tells it, Trump’s lawyer made quick work of the ruse. My relationship with Trump began in 1989, when he asked me to supply several grand and upright pianos to his then-new Taj Mahal … Trump, striking workers explained, had always agreed to … 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. "If the Taj Mahal had been started by Donald trump, we would never have taken the job. Rosenberg told me he's not particularly political. 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. An invoice sent a few weeks earlier for $1.4 million still hadn’t been paid. 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, … I respect her service. 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. 1991: Trump Taj Mahal. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks and Trump attorney Alan Garten did not respond to a list of questions about the candidate’s Taj dealings. And I say, 'Give me a check.' 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. ‘Booking.com’ Is A Trademark – Does This Matter To Your Business? “My father was old school,” says Rosser. History Trump Taj Mahal era: 1990–2016. ", 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. “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.”. “I really need the money,” Lundy said as he handed over photos of his grandfather. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. 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. “If ethics or morality has nothing to do with business,” Rosenberg says, “he’s a very good businessman.”. But the deal didn’t come together without another court fight. "I didn't say, 'if I get 20 percent of my money, you'll get 20 percent of your money.' "My name is Marty Rosenberg, and I've lived in A.C. my entire life," he began from a podium in front of the now-shuttered Trump Plaza hotel. 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 … You can't give me a check then.' (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File), Connect with the definitive source for global and local news, http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/bernard-condon. The Republican nominee is a callous businessman. But Morrison paid them anyway, Tobman recalls, by borrowing the money. Lupu had started with Trump in 1984, when he opened the Trump Plaza. 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 … One of the hardest hit was John Millar, a marble supplier who was owed $3.9 million. Morrison ended up having to write off $2 million of the $3 million that Trump owed him, according to his book. (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about this episode.) During the early days of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, more than 50,000 people came to visit every day. Trump bought a controlling stake in Resorts in 1987 and took full ownership of the Taj in late 1988. "The day of the meeting, which was around lunch time, I get a telephone call, from Donald's attorney. "I am not a Republican. , Rosenberg called the 20 or 30 suppliers to whom he still owed money for the Taj work. She then moved to the Taj Mahal in 1990. "Absolutely, we always do. It was his biggest gamble, the “eighth wonder of the world,” as he dubbed it. (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. Trump was “stringing us along,” says Tobman. 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. 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. ", 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. 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. And when it went south, his moves to avoid a financial hit to his empire hobbled many small businesses with little cushion to absorb the blow. Millar built back the retail side of his business to 14 stores before dying in 2008. The contractor who provided the onion domes atop the Taj had to eat $2 million in losses. He called the Trump Organization and was told, "Marty, you'll have your check in two weeks." McGahn, a powerful figure in South Jersey circles, died in 2000. The delays meant that contractors had to keep reaching into their pockets to pay their workers and suppliers. In November 1990, Trump missed a payment to his junk bond investors. Trump's bankruptcy meant that several contractors were never paid for their work and materials. ". I'm a free thinker," he said. However, it eventually closed in 2016. His family wouldn’t respond to repeated calls for comment. 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. Negotiations for payment, such as they were, dragged on for months. 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. 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. " He didn't get his check. One contractor ate $2 million in losses, another filed for bankruptcy, and one guy even had to fire his brother. The company helped with the roof of the Trump Parc East, a residential building overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, according to Tobman. I've…. 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. Strapped for money, some contractors sold them immediately, getting a fraction of what they were worth at maturity. 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. Trump managed to open the Boardwalk casino on April 2, 1990, though not quite as he had planned. I live in Brooklyn, New York. Opening day was pushed back twice, to April 2, only six weeks before a $47 million bond payment came due. Nobody's saying it didn't hurt. 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 … "His game was, 'If you're don't take the number I'm offering you, I'll file for bankruptcy,' " Rosenberg recalled. “I’m trying to take care of him.”. Trump asked him. The place was still unfinished, with the facade facing the Atlantic Ocean lacking much of its ornamentation. Rosenberg finished the work in February 1990. But the contractors weren’t so sure anymore. The personal bankruptcy was a “terrible blow” to him. Trump was known for not paying contractors whose work he deemed inferior, but Rosenberg he fielded no such complaints. 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." By 2016, the casino had closed completely bankrupt. That was the only time Rosenberg ever met Donald Trump. The Trump Taj Mahal was officially closed on October 10, 2016. When I'm not thinking about small business, I'm dreaming about trains, and hunting down old railroad artifacts. 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. “We took a beating,” former Hastings controller Howard Black says. ", And his former client? He continued to dismiss rumors that he was in financial trouble, but regulatory documents released later showed otherwise. Rosenberg believes that eventually he got about 70 percent of what he was owed, though the A.P. In August 1990, the truth finally came out. Either way, the money wasn’t enough. 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. He filed suit, charging that Trump never paid him in full for his work. More contractors sued Trump, but it was too late to collect what they were due. But for many of them, it could have happened yesterday. “He would shake your hand and look you in the eye,” says his son, Philip Paone. Many contractors, according to the A.P., retrenched or even went bankrupt. "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. Next.”. That company, eventually called Trump Entertainment Resorts, went on to lose hundreds of millions over a dozen years, collapsing into bankruptcy twice. The contractor who put in the bathroom partitions had to lay off his brother. The contractor who supplied … But "as the president of the Untied States, he scares the death out of me. A quarter of a century has passed since Donald Trump refused to pay in full 253 contractors who help build his Taj … 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. His IOUs to companies doing work for the Taj, which included overdue bills from contractors, jumped to $76 million in April — up 80 percent in just four months. Its website showcases at least 36 completed projects since 1993, mostly in the mid-Atlantic area, but also a half dozen overseas, in Europe and the Middle East, though few in recent years. 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. 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