NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – The backlash against US President Donald Trump is cutting into the heart of his brand: New York City real estate and landmarks.
The city is cancelling its deals with the Trump Organisation, ending more than US$17 million (S$22.5 million) in contracts with the President’s family business. They include a Bronx golf course and a carousel and two ice skating rinks in Central Park.
New York severed ties with Trump after rioters stormed the US Capitol last week following Trump’s call to stop the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election.
“The contracts make very clear: If the leadership of a company is engaged in illegal activity, we have the right to sever the contract, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday in an appearance on MSNBC.
“Inciting an insurrection against the US government clearly constitutes criminal activity.” Trump’s company said it plans to fight back.
“The City of New York has no legal right to end our contracts and if they elect to proceed, they will owe The Trump Organisation over US$30 million dollars,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “This is nothing more than political discrimination, an attempt to infringe on the First Amendment, and we plan to fight vigorously.” Politicians are joining businesses turning their backs on Trump.
In Manhattan’s Financial District, the broker of Trump’s 40 Wall Street building, Cushman & Wakefield, is cutting ties with the President’s business. The Trump Organisation will have to find another broker to fill the office spaces at the more than 70-story Art Deco tower near the New York Stock Exchange.
Deutsche Bank, professional golf group PGA of America and the Canada-based business that ran Trump’s online shop have abandoned him. Facebook and Twitter kicked them off their social networks. Snap said it was permanently banning the President.
Another real estate firm, Jones Lang LaSalle said it was “no longer doing business” with Trump’s company. The firm had been marketing Trump Hotel in Washington but said the listing agreement for the property had expired.
The New York properties, in particular, cut into Trump’s brand as a big-city developer. Trump has lived almost his entire life in New York City. He slapped his name on iconic properties, most notably Fifth Avenue’s Trump Tower.
”Because I grew up in Queens, I believed, perhaps to an irrational degree that Manhattan was always going to be the best place to live – the centre of the world,” Trump said in his first book, The Art of the Deal.
New York’s rejection of its famous son represents a harsh blow because the city is “ground zero” for the wealthy, glamorous and famous customers whom Trump has long courted, according to brand consultant Marty Neumeier.
In his trademark fashion, Trump often exaggerated his success as a developer. In many cases, including 40 Wall Street, he only leases the building.
“Many of the buildings aren’t even his, they just have his name on them,” said New York historian Marion Fox.
The Big Apple had already begun its Trump breakup. Only a fifth of New York City voters cast their ballots for him. In 2019, the president himself moved his official residence to his Florida resort, saying he’d been “treated very badly by political leaders of both the city and state.”