It goes without saying that billionaire real estate developer Donald J. Trump, a.k.a. "The Donald", is a major celebrity. As the star of the reality TV show The Apprentice, The Donald is mobbed wherever he goes, by people who rush up to him and say, "You're fired!" And in the outside world, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the Third Circuit enjoys derivative fame as his older sister.
But in the world of "Underneath Their Robes," federal judges are the celebrities. In this microcosm, Judge Barry is the superstar -- and The Donald's claim to fame is that he's Judge Barry's little brother!
As one might expect given her blood relation to The Donald, Judge Barry is quite the Judicial Diva, as previously noted in this post. A former prosecutrix, Judge Barry is a smart and sassy lady known for ladling out the judicial sauce, both at oral argument and in published opinions like this one (which a UTR reader described to A3G as "a rare example of circuit-to-prosecutor bench-slappery").
Well, it appears that Judge Barry's high-flying younger sibling has run into financial difficulties. As noted by the New York Times in this article, The Donald's casino company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, is heading into bankruptcy reorganization. In order to maintain his sizable equity stake in the company, The Donald must ante up $55 million. But whether Trump has this kind of cash on hand, given the fact that most of his fortune is tied up in illiquid real estate, is doubtful. A Lehman Brothers analyst quoted in the Times piece believes that The Donald does not have the money and will have to borrow it. With interest rates on the rise, and with his empire already leveraged to the hilt, borrowing $55 million at junk bond rates must be less than appealing for Trump.
The Donald may be suffering a liquidity crisis, but his sister Judge Barry has no such problems. Indeed, Judge Barry is one of the richest members of the federal judiciary. Her late father, Fred Trump, was a highly successful real estate developer. When Fred Trump passed away in 1999, Judge Barry, one of his four surviving children, inherited a significant portion of his $250 million estate. (So did The Donald, but it appears that he has already burned through his share of the inheritance, which he used as fuel for his own real estate empire.) As a result, according to one UTR reader, Judge Barry enjoys a net worth in excess of $80 million -- a relatively unencumbered $80 million, because Judge Barry is not saddled with the levels of debt that her richer but perhaps less liquid sibling has incurred. This correspondent adds that despite her wealth, "Judge Barry is regularly spotted dining with her clerks in the utterly squalid cafeteria of the Rodino Federal Building here in lovely Newark, New Jersey."
Hmm... An $80 million fortune, and a taste for cheap eats at the federal cafeteria? It sounds to A3G like this Judicial Diva has ducats to spare! Perhaps Judge Barry can "ride circuit" to The Donald's rescue?
This proposal is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Members of the Trump family are very good about being there for each other out during times of crisis. For example, as Judge Barry recounts in this brief but charming interview of the Trump siblings by New York magazine, after Judge Barry had surgery, the extremely busy Donald visited her in the hospital every single day. And this family solidarity extends to financial matters. Back in 1990, Fred Trump strolled into one of The Donald's casinos and bought a small fortune in chips, to give his son's casino business a desperately needed cash infusion. So picture the following scene:
It's a Saturday night at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Business is slow, in part due to the arrival on the scene of The Borgata, the Las Vegas-style hotel and casino resort that has taken away a lot of the Taj Mahal's premium business.
Suddenly, a figure in a black robe sweeps through the casino's main entrance, trailed by four fresh-faced youths. Heads turn to follow the tall, striking blonde as she strides across the casino floor, her young acolytes in tow. By now, the news has spread over the entire floor: the robed woman is none other than the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry, the prominent federal appeals court judge and near-centimillionaire, who happens to be The Donald's older sister.
Mere mortals trip over themselves as they scramble out of Judge Barry's path. Judge Barry approaches the cashier's window, her black robe billowing out behind her in the casino's strong air conditioning. When she arrives at the window, Judge Barry reaches underneath her robe, then whips out a certified check for $5 million.
"Five million dollars in chips for me and my law clerks, please," says Judge Barry.
"Right away, Your Honor. Five million in chips, so ordered!"
Although this scenario may seem a bit ridiculous, the idea of The Donald borrowing from his well-heeled family members, perhaps on an interest-free basis, is not a bad one. So UTR has some friendly advice for The Donald: Call up Judge Barry and ask, "Sister, can you spare a dime -- or maybe $55 million?"
Ready to be on The Apprentice for giving The Donald such brilliant business advice,