President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, agreed to forfeit five residential properties as part of his plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. One of Manafort’s best real estate decisions was to include his 1,500-square-foot Trump Tower condominium in that batch. In the parlance of the president, it turned out to be a dog of an investment.
The value of Manafort’s home on the 43rd floor of Trump Tower, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, has fallen 19 percent since he bought it in 2006, according to Zillow Inc., a real estate website that puts the condo’s current worth at $3 million. Measuring from March 2016, when Manafort became Trump’s campaign chairman, the value has tumbled 25 percent. In that same period, from the first quarter of 2016 through the second quarter of 2018 — the latest data available — the median price of luxury real estate in the Manhattan market was flat, according to data from Miller Samuel Inc.
Owning a unit in the building was a big part of Manafort’s pitch to Trump for the campaign’s top job, according to the New York Times. Manafort began his job interview with Trump by telling the candidate he lived in the building. The article said: “This was no trivial point: It signaled his wealth and a willingness to work 15-hour days in a building that housed both his lavish apartment and Mr. Trump’s bare-bones campaign. It also meant Mr. Manafort had already put his money — in the form of an apartment purchase — into Mr. Trump’s brand, which meant a lot to the candidate, a transactional developer and politician, aides said.”
Just to note: while Manafort’s apartment is on the 43rd floor of Trump Tower, that’s a bit of an “alternative fact,” to use the phrase made famous by Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. In the real world it’s on the 33rd floor. During construction, Trump decided to have the elevator buttons skip 10 floors to make the building seem larger. In city records, Trump Tower has 58 floors. According to Trump’s system of floor numbering, it’s 68.
As part of his plea deal, Manafort also is forfeiting four other homes in New York: a seven-bedroom brownstone in Brooklyn that Zillow values at $4.14 million, a two-bedroom condominium in Lower Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood valued at $3.21 million, a three-bedroom condominium three blocks away on the edge of Little Italy that Zillow says it worth $4.1 million, and a 10-bedroom mansion in the Hamptons valued at $7.4 million.