This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on July 14, 2016.
In 1990, Donald Trump’s empire and image were imploding. Running short on cash and having already missed a bond payment to the backers of his Trump Castle casino in Atlantic City, Trump was on the precipice of bankruptcy. If he defaulted on the loan, banks would swoop in, seize his prized properties, and sell them off to get their money back.
But those banks offered Trump a lifeline. They agreed to loan him more money so he could keep making payments on his various debts—under a few conditions. “The banks will name two executives to run the Trump empire, bar him from moving money among his companies without the banks’ permission, and limit him to a $450,000 allowance for ‘personal and household spending,'” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The Associated Press and other news outlets called the allowance “stringent.” But Wayne Barrett, the longtime Village Voice reporter, showed how ridiculous the sum actually was in his book, Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth. “The absurdity of his personal allotment—more than the salary of the chairman of the principal bank backing the deal, Citibank, and tallying $14,516 a day—baffled even real billionaires. ‘I have no idea how to spend $450,000 a month,’ said an anonymous one to the [New York Times].'”
Apparently Trump did. According to New York’s Newsday, Trump spent around $54,000 a year on suits, ate out at New York’s best restaurants around 200 times a year, and had to keep up the staff and grounds at his three homes. He also owed a big stipend and child support to his wife Ivana—the couple were then separated—who breezily told reporters, “I think he’ll be fine.”
Yet the banks apparently still had a heart: they generously allowed The Donald not to count the costs of his jet, helicopter, and 272-foot luxury yacht against his allowance.