How Much Money Will The Capitol Riot Cost Trump?

So far, the president’s ego has taken a bigger hit than his wallet. But that could still change

Illustration: Depositphotos.com/motortion

The last 12 days have been jarring for the Trump Organization—though not crippling. First, news hit that Shopify was cutting off the president’s ecommerce business, but that only brought in an estimated $931,000 a year anyway. Next, the Professional Golfers’ Association announced it was moving the 2022 PGA Championship, which might cost Trump a couple million in sales annually. Finally, New York City said it would cancel the president’s contracts, which provide about $18 million in revenue a year—not enough to destabilize an empire that hauls in $600 million or so.

The damage may not be done, though. On Wednesday, two Trump tenants, TB Alliance and the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, said they are looking for ways to move out of the president’s Wall Street skyscraper. If more tenants follow their lead, either by getting out of leases or promising not to extend them when they expire, the problems could get far worse for Trump. His commercial real estate holdings generate an estimated $191 million of rent annually. And since a high percentage of that rent turns into profit, those assets make up an estimated 59% of the president’s $2.5 billion fortune. If you want to understand the effect of the riot on Trump’s finances, in other words, you have to know the impact on his commercial real estate holdings.

With that in mind, Forbes reached out to roughly 140 Trump tenants to see whether they are planning to stay in the president’s buildings. Tellingly, very few of them wanted to answer. About 120 did not respond at all. A half dozen or so replied but did not detail their plans. Roughly 10 declined to comment. Only three companies—Neuberger Berman, Santander and a Japanese business called KNT-CT Holdings—were willing to say on the record that they had no plans to change their lease agreements. Those three companies all rent space inside 1290 Avenue of the Americas, where Trump owns a 30% stake alongside publicly traded Vornado Realty Trust, which manages the property.

Getting out of rental agreements can be costly. A 2015 debt prospectus, for example, explained that Walgreens Boots Alliance could end a lease at 40 Wall Street early—if it were to pay a $2.9 million termination fee, equal to nearly two years of rent. No wonder certain companies have been quick to condemn the president but so slow to do much about their leases. Real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, for instance, told the Washington Post that it “has made the decision to no longer do business with the Trump Organization.” It seems clear they won’t lend their real estate services to the Trump Organization anymore, but will the company remain inside 1290 Avenue of the Americas, where they currently pay an estimated $16.2 million of rent a year, $4.8 million of which is attributable to Trump? Representatives of the firm wouldn’t say.

Hadassah, an organization that supports Jewish women, issued a strong statement on the day of the riot at the Capitol. “The criminal behavior and events of this afternoon are abhorrent, as are attempts to disrupt democracy with incitement to violence,” it said. “As Jews, we know the power of words and demand our elected leaders raise the level of discourse and lead with civility.” The message was a clear condemnation of Trump, who lied about the election results for months and who happens to own Hadassah’s office at 40 Wall Street. Representatives for that organization also did not respond to questions about their lease, which costs $1.6 million per year.

Several big companies made a point of reevaluating their political donations in the wake of the Capitol riot, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Blue Cross Blue Shield. All of them are Trump tenants, supplying an estimated $14 million a year in rent to the president combined. None would say whether they plan to make changes to their leases.

The silence leaves major questions about the future of Trump’s business. Most of his estimated $191 million in commercial rent is connected to leases that come due after 2023, when tempers may have cooled. But some of the companies who have publicly expressed concern in the wake of the Capitol riot have deals ending sooner—at least, assuming they haven’t recently renewed them. As of 2019, when Forbes obtained a document detailing many of Trump’s rental agreements, Goldman and JPMorgan Chase had leases set to expire in 2021. Morgan Stanley and Microsoft had ones running out in 2023. Bank of America and Cushman & Wakefield were locked in until 2025.

There’s also the question of how the riot will affect Trump’s ability to attract new tenants. One of the president’s most important leases involves Nike, which owes an estimated $13 million a year for space in New York City’s 6 East 57th Street. The retail company moved out of the building a few years ago and has a sublease with Tiffany, which will likely leave in 2022. That means the president may soon be looking for a new retailer to sign up for a multimillion-dollar lease with him—and all the complications that would come with it.

Forbes.com

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