Trump Witness Says He Valued Mar-a-Lago At More Than $1 Billion

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Dec 07, 2023 - 10:40 PM

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A Florida real estate agent this week testified in former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial in New York that his Mar-a-Lago property is worth at least $1 billion.

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower the day after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home, in New York City on Aug. 9, 2022. (David 'Dee' Delgado/Reuters)

Lawrence Moens, who was called as a witness by the defense, testified that the Florida property could be sold as a home, saying he would value it at over $1 billion as of 2021.

It’s something breathtaking. It’s something amazing to see,” he said of Mar-a-Lago, adding that he had valued it at over $1.2 billion in 2021. He also told the court that President Trump's company had actually undervalued Mar-a-Lago by about half.

Mr. Moens’s valuation assumes that Mar-a-Lago is a personal residence, a premise that a judge already has rejected in the ongoing civil fraud trial.

I work very hard to sell rich people property in Palm Beach,” testified Mr. Moens. “I’m on the front lines every day of selling properties, and I have a pretty good handle on what’s happening in the market.”

Spanning 17 acres with waterfront on two sides, the Trump estate and social club is his home, a place where the former president and current Republican 2024 front-runner has conducted high-profile meetings while in and out of office, and the spot where federal special counsel Jack Smith alleges he improperly stashed classified documents, which President Trump denies.

Mar-a-Lago also is a key element of the current New York civil case. State Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit claims that the ex-president and his company deceived lenders and others by giving them financial statements that greatly overstated the values of some of his prime assets, including Mar-a-Lago.

Testifying for Trump’s defense, a Florida real estate attorney said the property could be sold as a home, notwithstanding decades-old legal documents in which Trump said he intended to forswear its use as anything but a club. Then a Palm Beach luxury real estate broker testified that he’d value the historic estate at over $1 billion as of 2021.

Judge Arthur Engoron, in a pretrial ruling declaring that Trump and his company engaged in fraud, found that he exaggerated Mar-a-Lago’s worth by as much as 2,300 percent, compared to the Palm Beach County tax appraiser’s valuations. They ranged from $18 million to $28 million.

However, some real estate professionals who aren't involved in the case expressed concern about the judge's ruling several months ago, suggesting that he made an error by relying solely on the tax appraiser's valuations.

Some Palm Beach luxury real estate agents have told The Associated Press that the property would sell for $300 million to $600 million, and possibly $1 billion or more if it sparked a bidding war among uber-wealthy contenders.

During a short cross-examination Tuesday, state attorney Kevin Wallace asked whether he was a member of the Mar-a-Lago club. "I am," Mr. Moens said, saying that he joined in 1995 or 1996. "I don't go too often. I don't like clubs," he added.

"You're not running a process that is re-creatable ... is that fair?" Mr. Wallace asked about his valuations of Mar-a-Lago. "That's fair," Mr. Moens said.

In a pre-trial deposition over the summer, Mr. Moens had said that he "could dream up anyone from Elon Musk to Bill Gates and everyone in between" to purchase Mar-a-Lago. "Kings, emperors, heads of state." "If they want the best house in the country, that would be one of the top two or three that would be available if they were for sale," he added.

"I wish he'd let me sell it, but it's not for sale," he said.

Another defense witness, Miami-based real estate attorney John Shubin, also testified that “there is absolutely no prohibition on the use of Mar-a-Lago as a single-family residence.”

He noted that the property is simultaneously a club and President Trump’s residence. Mr. Shubin also pointed to a 1993 agreement between the former president and the city that said Mar-a-Lago would revert to private residential use if the club were “abandoned.”

This week, President Trump confirmed that he'll return to the witness stand on Monday in the New York case.

I will be testifying Monday in this shameful, NO JURY ALLOWED ‘TRIAL,'” he wrote Tuesday in a Truth Social post. Court was not in session Wednesday, and his son, Eric Trump, won't be testifying.

“I told my wonderful son, Eric, not to testify tomorrow at the RIGGED TRIAL … Eric has already testified, PERFECTLY,” President Trump wrote Tuesday. “So there is no reason to waste any more of this Crooked Court’s time on having him say the same thing, over and over again.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.