Trump's lavish lifestyle and his curious relationship with money
“It’s a protest against politics itself,” stated so many concerned parents to their children. “But it’ll never happen.” Of course, it did happen. And the blonde, bigoted billionaire businessman - complete with his lavish lifestyle and supermodel wife - is now the President of the United States.
Trump managed to appeal to Americans who felt disenfranchised and who, in many cases, had never voted before. His words resonated with people who didn’t have money, employment or respect for the system. Yet Trump himself is one of the most monied and - with around 500 businesses - one of the most employed people in the country.
He has never shied away from his wealth. “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich,” he once stated. However, his politics are about utility and trimming the fat in Washington while his lifestyle is one of frivolity and excess.
That said, the outlandish quotes about his wealth are dwindling and his lavish lifestyle is now largely kept behind closed doors. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how this unusual politician spends his money.
Perhaps the most quintessential component of Trump’s arsenal is his private jet. While most private jets take the form of a Cessna, Trump’s is a Boeing 757. With Rolls Royce turbo-fan engines and seating for 43, the plane also features gold plated seat buckles and a private cinema.
Of course, no privately-owned 757 would be complete without a few elegant touches. So the plane also boasts a mohair divan, embroidered Trump family crests and enough wooden panelling to start a forest fire. In total, the plane is thought to be worth an eye-watering $100m. That said, Trump is currently leasing an even larger plane from the US government...
Trump likes to travel in style on the ground just as he does in the air. So he stuck with the Rolls Royce theme and got himself a $500,000 Phantom. The car comes with a 453-horsepower V12 engine and a completely customisable interior.
Trump previously owned the classic Phantom, making his current one a 21st-century upgrade. He has had a fleet of other cars, including a Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster, a Ferrari F430 Coupe and his own Trump-branded limousines, customised by Cadillac themselves. Unfortunately, his car collection is probably collecting dust in a gold-plated garage as driving is off-limits for any president.
Mar-a-Lago is Trump’s 128-bedroom Palm Beach estate, which he turned into a private club in 1995. Built in 1927, it belonged to Marjorie Merriweather Post, a businesswoman, socialite and heiress to what would become General Foods. Trump equipped Mar-a-Lago with three bomb shelters, a 20,000 square foot ballroom covered in $7m worth of gold leaf and also put up an 80-foot flagpole, leading to one of the many lawsuits which resulted from Trump’s residence at the mansion.
If you’re interested in joining the club, there is a one-off fee of $100,000 and then an annual fee of $14,000. Needless to say, Mar-a-Lago also has a sectioned-off area just for the president and the whole estate is subject to rigorous safety measures including flight restrictions within a 50 kilometre radius whenever he comes to stay.
With a penchant for the finer things in life, it’s no surprise that this family is a fan of expensive jewellery. Though it’s not technically his, when Trump proposed to his current wife Melania he did so with a 15-carat, $1.5m ring.
If that sounds lavish, he also bought her a 25-carat ring for their anniversary. Melania decided to wear this ring for her official FLOTUS photoshoot. Needless to say, it caused quite a stir. But she truly looked a million (or should that be three million) dollars.
Trump’s most renowned residence is that which sits atop Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York. An enormous penthouse apartment, it is referred to as the 68th floor (even though Trump Tower only has 58 floors). The apartment features marble, murals and more gold than you could hope to imagine.
The diamond-encrusted front door leads into a world of crystal chandeliers and family portraits. The apartment is thought to be worth around $100m and features Ancient Greek-style decor and was supposedly inspired by King Louis XIIII.
Remember the family crest which Trump has embroidered into the furnishings on his plane? And remember Marjorie Merriweather Post - the socialite who owned the Mar-a-Lago estate in the 1920s? Well, the coat of arms was actually granted by British authorities in 1939 to Joseph Edward Davies, the third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Trump simply took it as his own.
It doesn’t fly in the UK, where the coat-of-arms authorities prevented him from using the crest at his Scottish golf courses. The emblem used in the UK, where it is illegal to use a coat of arms which doesn’t belong to you, now has a two headed eagle (to represent the president's dual nationality). The original coat of arms featured the latin word for "integrity" which has now been replaced with the word "Trump".
It will be interesting to see how Trump’s rhetoric on his personal wealth evolves over the course of his presidency. For now, his money means he can live like a king. Not that he is a king. He doesn’t have the lineage to prove it.
Featured illustration by Egarcigu