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When Donald Trump tried to sell for US$115 million a yacht he bought for US$30 million from the Sultan of Brunei

“The major corporate entertainment this week seems to be on the waterfront,” reported the South China Morning Post on March 25, 1990. “The Art of Making a Deal, [sic] by Donald Trump, is now showing at Ocean Terminal on and around the luxury yacht, Trump Princess.

“The yacht’s US$115 million (HK$897 million) price tag has been described as ‘a joke price’, but the Trump team and the media have hoisted it gleefully like a battle flag announcing the arrival of the Trump Circus Troupe.

“No one seriously expects the yacht to go for its asking price, although top boat brokers and the ship financing community believe it will fetch ‘a justifiably good price’ – but not from a Hongkong buyer.

“Sceptical observers with varied vested interests and insufficient cash, say it is doubtful the handful of Hongkongers now in a position to consider the yacht will make serious bids.

The Trump Princess docked in Hong Kong in 1990. Photo: Robert Ng

“‘She has no earnings, no commercial returns. No one buys a boat like that as a tax shelter. As an investment, I would say Mr Trump will have the last laugh and the last wad – unless whoever buys it this time round is equally notorious,’ a Hongkong ship broker said.

“Just to get things in perspective, a brand new custom-fitted luxury yacht like the Trump Princess from the Benetti/Azimut boatyards in Italy, where it was built, would cost between US$55 and US$65 million, about half of Trump’s asking price. At most, a new 85.9 metre Azimut yacht might sell for US$70 million.

The Trump Princess awaits viewing by potential buyers in Hong Kong in 1990. Photo: Robert Ng

“The yacht’s real value is intrinsic. It will be able to live off the Trump stamp and its past reputation for years to come.

“Mr Trump paid about US$30 million for the yacht [which he] bought from the Sultan of Brunei in 1987.”

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