“My father was old school,” says Rosser. The Trump Taj Mahal was officially closed on October 10, 2016. “This guy never paid me,” MacLeod deadpanned. "I am not a Republican. AP researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this report. But I told him, I have plan. “Donald Trump was flamboyant, but he was an immensely successful contractor who paid his debts.”. You can't give me a check then.' He says the way Trump handled the contractors shows the candidate is shrewd and clever, qualities his fans seem to like in the presidential candidate. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City's Taj Mahal … I have reported on entrepreneurs, and the politics and policies that affect them, for The New York Times and Inc. magazine, among others, for more than a decade. Said Trump: "O.K., you've got the job.". Even as Resorts struggled to finish the project, it still managed to periodically pay Atlantic Plate and Window Glass, Rosenberg said. And when it went south, his moves to avoid a financial hit to his empire hobbled many small businesses with little cushion to absorb the blow. By 2016, the casino had closed completely bankrupt. “It wasn’t just the money; a lot of these guys went into depression.”. Barbara Kerr, a friend who had lent him $73,000, says that Millar had his hands in ventures outside of contracting, but that it was the work at the Taj that did him in. (Photo: NJTV News via YouTube), Earlier this month, when Hillary Clinton spoke on the Atlantic City boardwalk, she was introduced by a man who was not there to praise her, but to bury Donald Trump. After college, Rosenberg said, he joined the family business, Atlantic Plate and Window Glass. "My name is Marty Rosenberg, and I've lived in A.C. my entire life," he began from a podium in front of the now-shuttered Trump Plaza hotel. Others caught up in the Taj turmoil didn’t fare as well. The company helped with the roof of the Trump Parc East, a residential building overlooking Central Park in Manhattan, according to Tobman. Trump bought a controlling stake in Resorts in 1987 and took full ownership of the Taj in late 1988. “Pay me my money!”. The lawsuit was settled two months later for an undisclosed amount. But Trump raked in $82 million in fees and salary and bonuses, according to Fortune magazine estimates. That was the only time Rosenberg ever met Donald Trump. Strapped for money, some contractors sold them immediately, getting a fraction of what they were worth at maturity. If he had to sell everything quickly, according to accountants Kenneth Leventhal & Co., he’d be worth as little as negative $295 million. Rosenberg believes that eventually he got about 70 percent of what he was owed, though the A.P. Still, like some others among the contractors contacted by the AP, Lundy doesn’t believe Trump acted badly given the hardball, sometimes unscrupulous nature of industry. By then, he had been paid somewhere between $11 and $12 million. A quarter of a century has passed since Donald Trump refused to pay in full 253 contractors who help build his Taj … Millar eventually had to lay off workers, shut down his business Avalon Commercial, close many of his retail stores and borrow from friends to make ends meet, according to court documents and Millar’s lawyers and former employees. “I have a lot of money,” he told The New York Times at the time, “and the Taj has a lot of money.”. And I began my career peeking into the dark corners of the legal system for The American Lawyer. He called the Trump Organization and was told, "Marty, you'll have your check in two weeks." Meanwhile, his nephews now run a glass glazing company called APG International. "I didn't get a check, and that check was for $1.2 - $1.3 million.". It took years to get the rest, assuming the companies survived long enough to collect. But we'd never do that. He died in 2010. Rosenberg finished the work in February 1990. Trump, who once bragged that he was the “King of Debt,” owed $70 million to 253 contractors who worked on the Taj and who, in turn, hired thousands of workers. "I have no animosity toward Donald Trump," he told me. (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File), Connect with the definitive source for global and local news, http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/bernard-condon. He laughed. His family wouldn’t respond to repeated calls for comment. She then moved to the Taj Mahal in 1990. The trouble wasn’t enough to keep Molded Fiber Glass from doing work for Trump again. “He’s a crook!” she roared, according to a son who was with her that day. The personal bankruptcy was a “terrible blow” to him. McGahn, Trump’s tough-guy lawyer who fended off contractors who felt shortchanged, ended up feeling shortchanged, too. Trump was denying he was in financial trouble: “I have a tremendous amount of cash,” he told the Washington Post that March. Ways Entrepreneurs Can Stretch Their Capital, 2 Million Professionals Polled On How To Make Virtual Conferences Better— Here Are Their Top 10 Hacks, Subscribe Now: Forbes Entrepreneurs & Small Business Newsletters. Lupu had started with Trump in 1984, when he opened the Trump Plaza. ", I have reported on entrepreneurs, and the politics and policies that affect them, for The New York Times and Inc. magazine, among others, for more than a decade. That company, eventually called Trump Entertainment Resorts, went on to lose hundreds of millions over a dozen years, collapsing into bankruptcy twice. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks and Trump attorney Alan Garten did not respond to a list of questions about the candidate’s Taj dealings. Many contractors didn’t know what to think. Rosenberg was one of the hundreds of contractors that Donald Trump stopped paying in early 1990 as they raced to complete his Taj Mahal hotel and casino a … ATLANTIC CITY — Contractors for Hard Rock International were busy Wednesday removing the iconic fountain that once greeted guests at the entrance to Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. The contractor who provided the onion domes atop the Taj had to eat $2 million in losses. Trump was “stringing us along,” says Tobman. However, it eventually closed in 2016. Five hundred miles away, in Ashtabula, Ohio, Robert Morrison of the Molded Fiber Glass Co. was pressing his workers to finish the domes and minarets and other faux Moorish ornaments in time for the April opening — and worrying about who was going to pay for all of it. Marty Rosenberg, who was installing floor-to-ceiling curtain walls of glass, picked up the phone in his Atlantic City office and called one of Trump’s men overseeing construction. Rosenberg, who's now 73, left the family business a short time later for reasons that he declined to explain, except to say that it had nothing to do with the problems with Trump. He ordered crystal chandeliers from Austria; hand-sewn carpets from Britain; 70 onion domes, one of them 50-foot high; the Carrara marble from Italy. ‘Booking.com’ Is A Trademark – Does This Matter To Your Business? A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal casino. “If ethics or morality has nothing to do with business,” Rosenberg says, “he’s a very good businessman.”. Yes, We Have No Choice, Gender Bias: Trademark Act Never Contemplated A Woman Or Gay Male President, Cannabis Challenges Differ In Each State Where It’s Newly-Legal, 5 Unexpected Places To Find Your Next Great Business Idea. Construction on the project was troubled from the start. Trump, who once bragged that he was the “King of Debt,” owed $70 million to 253 contractors who worked on the Taj and who, in turn, hired thousands of … Frank Lundy, owed $580,000 for overseeing construction clean-up at the Taj, was visiting his sick grandfather; the older man’s face was half frozen from a stroke, tubes sticking out his arms. Rosenberg, according to the A.P., held $1.1 million of that debt. Workers lost their jobs. "It hurt. His IOUs to companies doing work for the Taj, which included overdue bills from contractors, jumped to $76 million in April — up 80 percent in just four months. It was April 1990, and Mr. Trump was officially opening his third gambling resort in Atlantic City, the biggest project of his career: the $1 billion Trump Taj Mahal. “You have to be very rough and very tough with most contractors,” he wrote in his 1987 book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal,” ″or they’ll take the shirt right off your back.”. Millar is deceased. And I say, 'Give me a check.' By the start of 1990, Trump was desperate for the contractors to finish so he could begin taking money from slots players and high rollers. The bonds would eventually pay in full, but the holders had to wait at least several years. The New York Post headline: “The Taj May Go Topless.”. "There are parts of both parties that I agree with, and parts that I disagree with." I'm not a Democrat. "At the end of the job, I did not get my requisition," he said. During the early days of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, more than 50,000 people came to visit every day. Those who entrusted him with their funds or labor, including employees, vendors and bond and stockholders, often fared less well. I respect her service. Over his protests, regulators unsealed a devastating report written by Trump’s own accountants: The “billionaire” had been burning through cash in his personal accounts so fast in the spring that he would have had nothing by end of the year if he didn’t take drastic action. "His game was, 'If you're don't take the number I'm offering you, I'll file for bankruptcy,' " Rosenberg recalled. All the trials and triumphs of building a business – delivered to your inbox. Trump officials denied the charge, but the judge overseeing the case expressed frustration with the varying reasons they had given in depositions for not paying — and raised the specter of an investigation for perjury, according to published reports at the time. Documents filed with regulators suggest Trump gave Paone about a third of what he was owed over the next year. Two weeks passed and no check arrived. ", "Are you going to do a good job?" That's why we keep getting work in Atlantic City." " Recovering what they were owed would take time and a lot of money. No." It took years to get the rest, assuming the companies survived long enough to collect. "I spoke to my brother and said, " 'Harry, we've got a problem.' “To him that was more important than a piece of paper.”. McGahn, who had helped lead the campaign to bring gambling to Atlantic City, had called a meeting so contractors could plead their case to him. Some couldn’t afford the negative cash flow, and the money squeeze started rippling out from company to company. In 1996, he filed for personal bankruptcy. “We got next to nothing,” says Michael MacLeod, whose 40-person studio made the giant elephant statues at the entrance to Taj. The company refused to comment. Trump's bankruptcy meant that several contractors were never paid for their work and materials. She knows people. ", Atlantic Plate and Window Glass was about three-quarters through the job and was owed some money from Resorts International before it would continue work. He brought the photos to a Trump lawyer named Patrick McGahn, a no-nonsense ex-Marine. As for MacLeod, the sculptor of the elephants outside the Taj, he says his anger over the episode has faded, and he can joke now about how he once got stiffed by a famous billionaire. “I’ll check it out, Marty, and call you right back,” the man said. "I said, 'Maybe you can, but I can't do it any cheaper. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City’s Taj Mahal casino. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience. "Absolutely, we always do. Creditors ultimately agreed to a restructuring of the Taj Mahal's debts, and the company was in and out of bankruptcy court in just six weeks. Regular checks for work completed stopped arriving in the mail. “What he did was wrong.”, On June 12, Molded Fiber Glass sued for the $3 million it was owed. Trump financed the Taj with high-interest “junk” bonds — a method even he disdained. His story began in the 1980s, when Resorts International hired the family company to install the glass curtain walls on its 51-story tower. But, he added, "she has some background in the world. “Put in as many hours as you have to — unlimited overtime.”. One contractor ate $2 million in losses, another filed for bankruptcy, and one guy even had to fire his brother. “It was hard for him.”. Caucci, who himself was owed more than $500,000, says Millar agreed to take 10 cents on the dollar, but court documents suggest he got about 30 cents on the dollar over the next year. The Rosenbergs' business survived, Marty Rosenberg told me, because of the pledge it made to its own suppliers. I'm a free thinker," he said. “He would shake your hand and look you in the eye,” says his son, Philip Paone. The tab would climb to $100 million the next month. You may opt-out by. I live in Brooklyn, New York. But for Paone and others like her — the dozens of contractors and their families who never got all they were owed — it could have happened yesterday. But for many of them, it could have happened yesterday. “Morrison knew no other way but to pay his bills,” says Tobman. When I'm not thinking about small business, I'm dreaming about trains, and hunting down old railroad artifacts. He later folded the Taj into a publicly traded company holding other casinos. Negotiations for payment, such as they were, dragged on for months. The contractor who supplied … A toilet maker in Atlantic City It was 1988 when Forest Jenkins won a $200,000 contract to install toilet partitions at Trump's Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. A quarter of a century had passed since Donald Trump refused to pay $1.2 million for the paving stones her late husband installed at Atlantic City's Taj Mahal … “We took a beating,” former Hastings controller Howard Black says. Marty Rosenberg, former vice president of Atlantic Plate Glass, was among two dozen contractors and their survivors caught in the aftermath of the Taj bankruptcy who were interviewed by The Associated Press. Her father never made it out of seventh grade, she says, and built his businesses on trust, no contracts. Opening day was pushed back twice, to April 2, only six weeks before a $47 million bond payment came due. While the casino was not a complete failure, it did not make the kind of money it needed. Later in 1988, Trump acquired the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a transaction with Merv Griffin and Resorts International. “We got a problem,” he said. ". " He didn't get his check. “I want my money!” Philip recalls his father screaming into the phone. Soon after the opening, Trump owed $70 million to 253 contractors employing thousands who built the domes and minarets, put up the glass and drywall, … Resorts head James Crosby said it might be named the United States Hotel, in reference to the city's first major hotel. Trump asked how much more money it would take to finish the work, and Rosenberg told him, between $1 million and $3 million. You need to give me some leverage and some time.' A day later, he got his answer: The money’s coming in two weeks. In August 1990, the truth finally came out. "If the Taj Mahal had been started by Donald trump, we would never have taken the job. I've…. “Anytime I went to Atlantic City and I’d see that Trump sign, I’d think of the little guys,” says bankruptcy lawyer Arthur Abramowitz who worked with contractors for years after the casino itself went bankrupt. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to us. He rarely lost his temper. ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The contractor who provided the onion domes for the Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million in losses. The contractor who provided the onion domes for Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million (U.S.) in losses. “I took a big hit.”. The next year, when the casino collapsed into bankruptcy, those owed the most got only 33 cents in cash for each dollar owed, with promises of another 50 cents later. Rosenberg was one of the hundreds of contractors that Donald Trump stopped paying in early 1990 as they raced to complete his Taj Mahal hotel and casino a few blocks away. He says he had to sue Trump for not honoring the “right of first refusal.”. “He always managed to pay his bills,” says Kerr. A few days later, its lawyers ratcheted up the pressure; they threatened to remove the domes from the Taj and cart them away. "I served for many years as vice president," he continued, "and have a short story to tell you about part of that time.". At the opening of Trump’s Taj Mahal in 1990, he owed $70 million to various contractors. Another contractor on the Taj Mahal job who didn’t want to be named because he was afraid of being sued by Trump, said the Taj Mahal job was the … Photo by Raul654 on Wikimedia Commons 1991: Trump Taj Mahal. I said, 'you'll get paid in full,' " he said. Desperate for cash, contractors became easy targets for a new offer from Trump: Agree to less than they billed, and he’d pay the lower amounts immediately. She recalls him breaking down in tears at a Cape May restaurant a few years after the casino’s bankruptcy. “I’m trying to take care of him.”. It was his biggest gamble, the “eighth wonder of the world,” as he dubbed it. But for Paone and others like her — the dozens of contractors and their families who never got all they were owed — it could have happened yesterday. Morrison ended up having to write off $2 million of the $3 million that Trump owed him, according to his book. One of the hardest hit was John Millar, a marble supplier who was owed $3.9 million. Morrison of Molded Fiber Glass was getting desperate for his money and so he turned to Irwin Tobman, a field supervisor in Atlantic City overseeing the installation of the domes and minarets. Rosenberg went to New York to meet with Trump. Next Trump asked him. He pressed Trump’s people again, and got a familiar answer: You’ll get the money in two weeks, no problem. McGahn, a powerful figure in South Jersey circles, died in 2000. The Republican nominee is a callous businessman. BOSTON -- Donald Trump is in arrears on more than $50 million in contractors' bills for his Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, the construction manager of the project said Monday. The contractor who supplied the Carrara marble from Italy ended up filing for personal bankruptcy. A quarter of a century has passed since Donald Trump refused to pay in full 253 contractors who help build his Taj in Atlantic City. Between 1990 and 1996, Mr. Trump persuaded creditors to revamp his original restructuring agreement again and again. Rosenberg, whom Trump would eventually owe $1.1 million, walked down the hall and entered his brother’s office. History Trump Taj Mahal era: 1990–2016. The contractor who put in the bathroom partitions had to lay off his brother. Tobman says Trump’s cash crunch left Morrison with no money to pay the dozen companies he had hired to help with the Taj work. The real estate mogul told state regulators in 1988 that companies that sell junk bonds were nothing but “junk” companies. After the Taj opened in April 1990, the self-anointed “King of Debt” owed $70 million to 253 contractors employing thousands who built the domes and minarets, put up the glass and drywall, laid the pipes and installed everything from chandeliers to bathroom fixtures. He filed suit, charging that Trump never paid him in full for his work. The casino was opened in April 1990, and was built at a total cost of $1.1 billion, which at the time made it the most expensive casino ever built. Taj Mahal contractors were told to take less than they were owed. George Jenkins, the bathroom partition man who had to lay off his brother, was shocked when Trump balked at paying the $232,000 he was owed, according to his daughter, Beth Rosser. Company employees, including Eric Rosenberg, a senior vice president, declined to speak with Forbes. Trump properties in Atlantic City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991, including the Trump Taj Mahal; Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts joined in 2004 and Trump … An invoice sent a few weeks earlier for $1.4 million still hadn’t been paid. “Anyone who can afford home health care doesn’t need our money. Marble man Millar eventually stopped paying credit card bills, dues for a private club, then his state taxes. The Trump Taj Mahal casino and hotel, owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., stands in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S., on Sunday, May 8, 2016. That's how you make things work. One of the reasons some contractors heard for the delay in pay: Trump said he needed to complete audits first to make sure they weren’t overcharging. Casino in Atlantic City. Everyone laughed. Trump, striking workers explained, had always agreed to … Do I think she's the cleanest person? © 2021 Forbes Media LLC. But "as the president of the Untied States, he scares the death out of me. Two months later, Molded Fiber Glass was still waiting. The initial construction of the … ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Weak from heart surgery and a sepsis infection that would soon kill her, Patricia Paone was resting at home last summer when an apparition appeared on the TV — a famous businessman who had struck a deal with her husband years before. In November 1990, Trump missed a payment to his junk bond investors. (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment about this episode.) Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. The contractor who supplied the Carrara marble from Italy ended up filing for personal bankruptcy. He grabbed a camera and began shooting. Lundy, the contractor with the sick grandfather, also took Trump up on his offer of working for him in Atlantic City again. He said, 'What's this I hear about a meeting?' Lawsuits began piling up. Molded Fiber Glass never removed its domes, choosing instead to join with Lundy and 46 others in a negotiated settlement with Trump for cash equal to 33 cents of each dollar owed, plus 50 cents in convertible bonds, according to Morrison’s book. Far from being overstretched, he told Newsweek, he was looking to expand: “I think the people with a lot of cash —and I have a lot of cash — are going to be able to make beautiful deals in the next few years.”, “Naturally, you assumed you’d get paid,” Molded Fiber Glass CEO Morrison wrote in a book about the Taj published in 1994. Trump managed to open the Boardwalk casino on April 2, 1990, though not quite as he had planned. Many contractors, according to the A.P., retrenched or even went bankrupt. "I said, 'I want you know that you're not going to get your money right away, but you're going to get every dime. Either way, the money wasn’t enough. Next.”. My relationship with Trump began in 1989, when he asked me to supply several grand and upright pianos to his then-new Taj Mahal … To finance the Taj, he claimed he could borrow at low prime rates from banks because, as he testified, big banks were calling him “all the time,” begging him to take out loans. A year later, when the casino collapsed into bankruptcy, those owed the most got only 33 cents in cash for each dollar owed, with promises of another 50 cents later. "If we were planning to go out of business, we could do what Donald Trump did. I tell him, and he says, 'How do we stop this meeting? Trump Taj Bankruptcy Left Many Contractors Angry June 30, 2016 8:27 am ET The contractor who provided the onion domes for the Taj Mahal casino had to eat $2 million in losses. Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, N.J., nearly flushed Forest Jenkins’ company Triad Building Services down the toilet. 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Recalls him breaking down in tears at a Cape May restaurant a few years the,! Million to 253 contractors dying in 2008 disagree with. the “ eighth wonder of the ruse man.... Out from company to company hit was John Millar, a senior president! Remember the amount 11, Trump ’ s a crook! ” Philip recalls his screaming... Working for him in full, but Rosenberg he fielded no such complaints your money.,!