In his inimitable way, Donald Trump actually boasted about the huge 1995 tax loss reported in today’s New York Times, seventeen years ago. In an interview in 1999, Trump told me the following story, as recounted in my book My Generation: “I was in really deep shit,” Trump said. “You know, publicity is a funny thing. It does create value. But if things go bad, you get it.” One day during the workout of Trump’s financial collapse in the 1990s, which began when losses from his real estate interestss, hotels, casinos and airlinebrought him close to personal bankruptcy, Trump was walking in front of Tiffany & Co. with his then-wife Marla Maples when he saw a beggar. “Look at that man over there,” he said. “Do you know he’s worth more than I am?”
“But he’s a beggar!” Maples argued. “He’s worth nothing.”
“Right,” Trump replied. “And I’m worth minus nine hundred million dollars.”
I do wish I’d had the presence of mind to ask to see his tax returns as proof.