Live

Watch CBSN Live

Trump's $7 billion boast

COMMENTARY Donald Trump is, it must be said, a master of the fabulous. For many his most fabulous creations are his celebrity and gold-plaited properties. However, I think his statement of net worth certainly equals those in shiny hollowness.

According to The Donald's forthcoming book,Time To Get Tough, his net worth as of June 2010 is just a smidge more than $7 billion. If this is any indicator of the imagination used in the rest of the book then alert the Pulitzer committee. (I assume the title is meant ironically. Because clearly it wasn't time to get tough enough to actually run for president -- as he threatened earlier this year.) 

Whether or not this number is accurate is not for me to say, however the Short-Fingered Vulgarian does have a long history of an overinflated sense of worth -- both self and net.The Atlantic has a wonderful timeline of 20 years of claims and counterclaims about The Donald's net worth. No matter how often his ex-wife and other close associates say he's a mere millionaire someone, usually Forbes magazine, comes back and puffs that number up.

Most recently, Trump lost a defamation lawsuit against a writer who said Trump wasn't a billionaire and that his fortune was actually between $150 million and $250 million. Donald, who never hesitates when it comes to going to court, sued Timothy L. O'Brien, author of the book Trump Nation and currently executive editor of the Huffington Post Media Group, for making this scandalous accusation.

Of course, when the ruling came out in September, Our Favorite Hairpiece didn't let losing stop him from claiming victory. Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying:

Despite the outcome on appeal, it was proven conclusively that Mr. Trump's net worth exceeded $7 billion dollars. The New Jersey Court erred in its final decision even though they accurately held that ... [O'Brien's] failure to conduct research could, at most, be considered evidence of negligence. Mr. Trump will continue to defend his name and take legal action against anyone who disseminates false information against him or The Trump Organization.

Actually, what the New Jersey Appellate Court said in its ruling was:

O'Brien has certified that he re-interviewed his three confidential sources prior to publishing their net worth estimates, and he has produced notes of his meetings with them both in 2004 and in 2005. The notes are significant, in that they provide remarkably similar estimates of Trump's net worth, thereby suggesting the accuracy of the information conveyed. ... Further, the accounts of the sources contain significant amounts of additional information that O'Brien was able to verify independently.

To my eyes, that's just a little bit different.

Nearly half of the value in Trump's latest not-confirmed-by-a-disinterested-third-party statement comes from what he says is the value of the Trump brand. He says Predictiv, which bills itself as an intangibles-evaluation service, said his brand is worth $3 billion. Here's what Predictiv's Jonathan Low said about that:

Predictiv did a brand valuation for Mr. Trump prior to the financial crisis in the first half of 2008. The valuation at that time was between $2.8 billion and $3 billion. Data provided by the Trump Organization and from public sources was used in the analysis. A statistical model was used in the valuation process. Predictiv has not done any subsequent analyses of that scope for the Trump Organization.

Apparently The Donald's brand is totally immune to the economy's up and downs. Fascinating. Well, I certainly believe that. By the way, to place that valuation in perspective consider that if true, it means Trump name is worth just slightly less than those of Starbucks, John Deere, HTC, Ferrari and Harley Davidson.

Draw your own conclusions.

It's what Donald does.

View CBS News In