Forbes calculated the net value of each of Trump's properties and known assets. Adding together Trump's real estate holdings, golf courses, brand business and personal assets, Forbes determined the president was worth $3.1 billion as of February 2019.
In 2016, Vanity Fair reported that many in the financial and business community believe Trump is worth far less than he claims. Many cited the fact that Trump sold millions of dollars in assets to cover his campaign's debts as evidence he possesses far less cash than he claims.
Several tax experts and fellow rich people told Politico that, even in the absence of seeing his tax returns, they were willing to bet that Trump was technically a low-grade billionaire. But it’s possible, many say, that Trump pockets far less profit than his business revenues suggest. The fact that he’s sold several of his assets—including up to $7 million in fund assets and $9 million in individual securities—to cover his campaign debt suggests that he probably doesn’t have enough cash on hand to easily cover the costs of his campaign outright. That’s not something one would expect from a man who claims he is worth “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS” (the capitalization is Trump’s). In addition, the real estate mogul has added over $50 million in debt to his ledger, Politico reports, putting his total debt somewhere between $315 million and $500 million, and possibly more.
Much of Trump's persona is built on the claim his empire is independently built. However, a comprehensive New York Times report found the president owed much of his success from generous and consistent financial gifts from his father. While this discovery pokes large holes in Trump's personally created mythos, it confirms he is, in fact, incredibly wealthy. Trump's father began funneling money toward his son before he was in kindergarten and maintained the practice throughout his adulthood.
By age 3, he was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. In his 40s and 50s, he was receiving more than $5 million a year.
...In Mr. Trump’s books and TV shows and on the campaign trail, a central trope of his self-mythology has been that, as he began building his own empire, the only financial help he got from his father was a $1 million loan. Not only that: “I had to pay him back with interest.”
In fact, The Times found, Fred Trump lent his son at least $60.7 million, or $140 million in today’s dollars. Much of it was never repaid, records show.
Yet, because of the lack of official financial documents, there is still little evidence confirming the president's net worth. Politico reported in 2016 that what the American public does have access to is evidence of Trump's penchant for lying and exaggerating his wealth.
Trump attributes the refusal to ongoing audits. But there is no prohibition on individuals releasing returns under scrutiny by the IRS. The refusal has led to rampant speculation among Wall Street executives who have done deals with Trump that his returns would show surprisingly low income.
...“Trump has a tendency to value his brand at a very high amount, but these are usually intangible valuations just pulled out of thin air,” said Steve Stanganelli, a certified financial planner at Clear View Wealth Advisors. “And he appears to be reporting gross revenue. There is a huge difference between that and net income. What really matters is what you put in the bank.”
Estimates of Trump’s net worth range from a low of $150 million to $250 million asserted by journalist Timothy O’Brien in a 2005 book that earned him a libel lawsuit from Trump that was eventually dismissed. O’Brien saw Trump’s tax returns as part of the discovery in that suit but the records were sealed by the court and O’Brien is not allowed to discuss them in any detail.
Jonathan Greenberg is an investigative financial and legal journalist, and the man who initially placed Trump on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans nearly four decades ago. Greenberg wrote in the Washington Post that he placed Trump on this list after being duped by the businessman. According to Greenberg, Trump used this reputation of wealth to apply for and receive multi-billion dollar loans.
It is hard to imagine that financial institutions would extend $3 billion in loans to Trump’s Atlantic City and New York real estate projects based on his inflated asset statements and Forbes 400 listing without insisting on audited financial statements that demonstrated exactly how much cumulative debt he was on the hook for. Yet during the eight years after he first conned his way onto the list, this appears to be exactly what happened. As with all great con men, Trump is as skilled in the art of deception as he is in the art of promotion. He made certain that nobody could definitively counter his inflated-wealth con by ensuring that a comprehensive balance sheet was never created.
...As noted in “Trump Revealed,” while cooperating with a Comedy Central “roast” of him, Trump insisted that the show’s comedians agree to keep only one subject off-limits. “Don’t say I have less money than I say I do,” Trump insisted, according to comedian Anthony Jeselnik. “Make fun of my kids, do whatever you want. Just don’t say that I don’t have that much money.”
Since winning the presidency, Trump has fallen significantly on the Forbes 400 list. However, he still remains the 259th-richest person in America, which is no mean feat.
Trump is now the 259th-richest person in America, by our count, down 11 spots on the ranking since last year. It’s the third consecutive year that he has fallen in the ranks. In 2015, just after he launched his campaign for president, Forbes estimated Trump’s fortune to be $4.5 billion, good for the 121st spot on the list. Since then he has dropped 138 places, in spite of the surging stock market he regularly touts and frequent visits to his own properties.