A bankrupt venture: Trump owned a namesake casino 30 years ago

Saturday 22nd February 2020

LUCKNOW: As Agra prepares for Donald J Trump's visit to the Taj Mahal, not many know that almost 30 years before he became US President, he had tried to buy the Taj's namesake, a casio in New Jersey, but ended in bankruptcy. Started by a hotel and casino company, Resorts International, Trump bought Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City in 1988 for $230 million during his streak of buying casinos.

Over two years, he pumped money into the property and prepared it for a grand inauguration in April 1990, which was attended by the likes of pop artist Michael Jackson. By that time over a billion dollar had been spent on the Taj, which Trump had declared would be the "eighth wonder of the world."

Built on 19 acres, the Taj Mahal had more than 1,200 rooms, which included 242 suites, nine restaurants that could accommodate 3,000 diners at any given time as well as a rooftop helipad. Trump's Taj had the iconic dome and minarets- only they were coloured in pink and gold. The rest of the resort, designed on the lines of Mughal architecture, shone brightly in white and gold.

However, trouble began just a year later and the casino declared bankruptcy. A restructuring forced Trump to give up 50% stake of the business. In 1995, Trump established the Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, which bought the Taj in 1996. The company that would later be named Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2009 and was taken over by Avenue Capital Management with Trump keeping a small stake in exchange for lending the company his brand. After again filing for bankruptcy in 2014, the resorts company became a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises in 2016. In 2017, the Hard Rock International bought the Taj for four cents on the dollar at a meagre $50 million.

Once containing gold taps and grand ballrooms, which would befit palaces of the yore , Trump's labour of love- Taj let itself slip into oblivion with a tragic 'liquidation sale' that Hard Rock carried out to get rid of items such as chairs, desks, lamps, pillows and other furniture to carry out a massive renovation.

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