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Don’t say Russian: Trump didn’t want to ID Palm Beach mansion buyer

‘Don’t say Russian’: Trump didn’t want to ID Palm Beach mansion buyer

Alexandra Clough

“Don’t say Russian.”

Those were the words Donald Trump first told this reporter back in May 2008.

The topic was the buyer of a Palm Beach mansion owned by Trump. The then-New York real estate developer had just inked a blockbuster deal to sell the oceanfront estate for $100 million— a record for home sale even in the island’s billionaire playground.

The intrigue over the Trump property sale a dozen years ago surged again this month in the wake of yet another tell-all book about the president. This one by his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Back in 2008, the Palm Beach Post was the first to learn and report that Trump had a contract to sell the former Abe Gosman estate at 515 N. County Rd. The property was known as Maison de L’Amitie, or House of Friendship.

Sources familiar with the deal told this reporter that the mansion’s buyer was Russian, and there were plans to tear down and subdivide the property.

SEPT 4 2017 CUTLINE: Donald Trump purchased a mansion at 515 N. County Road in 2004 and sold it in 2008 for a recorded $95 million to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev. The mansion was demolished last year and the land was subivided into three lots. Jeffrey Langlois / Palm Beach Daily News * MARCH 2017 CUTLINE: Donald Trump purchased a mansion at 515 N. County Road in 2004 and sold it in 2008 for a recorded $95 million to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev. That sale still stands as Palm Beach s largest-ever single seller/single buyer deal. The year before he sold it, the property s tax bill totaled $980,033. * ORIGINAL cutline: Palm Beach County s mansion record hasn t budged since 2008, when Donald Trump sold the mansion at 515 N. County Road in Palm Beach to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybovlev for $95 million. Daily News file photo

In a telephone interview on May 14, 2008, Trump confirmed the pending sale but told this reporter he didn’t want it known that the buyer was Russian.

“Don’t say Russian,” Trump said.

So the May 15 story about the pending sale referred to the buyer as “foreign.”

The sale closed in July 2008 for $95 million to County Road Property LLC, netting Trump a profit of $54 million just months before global markets crashed. County Road Property was owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who made his fortune in fertilizer potash.

Details of the 2008 Trump interview came to mind following the appearance of Trump’s erstwhile attorney, Cohen, on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show on Sept. 8.

In the interview, Cohen talked about his new book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” and the sale of Trump’s Palm Beach mansion. Cohen also dished about what life was like to work for the brash real estate developer, now the 45th president of the United States who seeks re-election on Nov. 3.

Trump’s financial links to Russia have been an ongoing source of mystery throughout his political career and presidency. The Palm Beach mansion deal reportedly was investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but it was not mentioned in Mueller’s final report.

A vacant lot at 535 N. County Road, which just sold for $37 million, can be seen through the left set of gates that were part of the demolished mansion sold by President Donald Trump to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2008. Darrell Hofheinz / Daily News





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