The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.
In this motion graphic video, we break down the full story behind Donald Trump’s wealth.
Not only do we examine his major business successes and failures, but we even look back at real estate’s prominent role in the history of the Trump family. To conclude, the video breaks down Trump’s net worth and financial history, while highlighting some of the help he has gotten along the way in building his fortune.
The story started well over a century ago with Donald’s grandfather, Frederick Trump. Real estate runs deep in the blood of the Trump family, and Frederick was actually the first Trump to own a hotel. During the famous Klondike gold rush in Canada, Frederick owned an inn and restaurant that served gold miners. When he passed away, he left an estate worth just under $500,000 in today’s dollars to his heirs.
His eldest son, Fred Trump, carried on the Trump legacy by going into business with his mother, using the nest egg for seed money. Fred became a very successful builder in New York City’s outer boroughs. He built single family houses in Queens in the 1920s, helped pioneer the supermarket with the “Trump Market” during the Great Depression, and even built barracks for the Navy during World War 2.
But Fred’s real cash cow came in 1949, when he got a government loan to build Shore Haven Apartments in Brooklyn. The Federal Housing Administration paid him $10.3 million, but he was able to build the apartments for significantly less.
The government kept overpaying for houses in Brooklyn and Queens, and Fred kept building them. According to Donald, his father became “one of the biggest landlords in New York’s outer boroughs”. By the time of Fred’s death in 1999, it’s said that Fred Trump was worth between $250 and $300 million.
Born in Queens, Donald J. Trump would join his father’s company early on in his career. His father’s cash cow was now gone, but Donald had a different vision for the Trump name anyways. He envisioned the “Trump” brand as being synonymous with luxury worldwide.
To do this, in the mid-1970s, Donald went into real estate in Manhattan. Relying on the business connections and creditworthiness of his old man, he borrowed a “small sum” of 1 million dollars to get started.
Trump’s Biggest Successes
Trump’s top three business successes include the Grand Hyatt, 40 Wall Street, and the Apprentice.
1. Grand Hyatt
In 1976, Donald Trump and Hyatt partnered to buy the rundown Commodore Hotel near Grand Central Station. At the time, the whole neighborhood was in disarray with many nearby buildings on the verge of foreclosure. Trump negotiated contracts with banks and the city in an effort to fund the hotel and rejuvenate the area.
The end result was the Grand Hyatt, a 25-story hotel, which Trump sold his share of for $142 million in 1996.
2. 40 Wall Street
Another big win for Trump was with 40 Wall Street, once the tallest building in the world. He bought it for $1 million after years of vacancy. Today, it’s prime real estate in the financial district, worth more than $500 million – a huge return.
3. The Apprentice
The Apprentice was also a financial home run for Trump. As the show’s host and executive producer, he raked in $1 million per episode for a whopping 185 episodes.
Trump’s Biggest Failures
Like many businessmen, Donald Trump’s career has also had his share of failures.
1. Atlantic City
Donald’s biggest failure may be his ill-fated venture into casinos in Atlantic City.
The bleeding started in 1988 when he acquired the Taj Mahal Casino. Funded primarily by junk bonds, the massive casino would be $3 billion in debt within just a year of opening. Trump, who racked up $900 million in personal liabilities, had the business declare bankruptcy. To stay afloat, he ditched many personal assets such as half of his stake in the company, a 282-foot megayacht, and his airline.
Things were dire, and Trump’s dad chipped in by providing a $3.5 million loan in the form of casino chips to help make a loan payment.
Trump’s casino holding company would enter bankruptcy two additional times: in 2004, after accruing $1.8 billion in debt, and in 2009, after missing a bond payment during the Financial Crisis. Each time, Trump’s stake in the company fell.
2. Other Businesses
While three of Trump’s four bankruptcies involved Atlantic City casinos, he has also struggled in other ventures outside of real estate: Trump airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump: The Game, Trump Magazine, Trump Steaks, and Trump University were all destined for failure. Trump Mortgages was launched in 2006 right before the real estate crash, and it also imploded.
Trump’s Net Worth
According to Trump’s campaign, he is worth “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS”. However, he has also been accused in the past of artificially inflating his net worth. Forbes and Bloomberg News both have drastically different estimates of his wealth at $4.5 billion and $2.9 billion respectively.
Using the middle of the road figure from Forbes, here is how Trump’s wealth breaks down:
- 48% is in New York City real estate
- 7% is in cash and liquid assets such as investments
- 8% is in golf courses
- 4% is in “toys” such as helicopters, penthouse, or his Boeing 757 plane
The remainder includes other real estate assets outside of New York City, as well as the value of the licensing agreements for hotels, real estate, or other Trump products.
Trump as an Investor
So how did Donald Trump do in managing his fortune?
See Trump’s performance as an investor compared to other benchmarks in the next video for The Money Project.
About the Money Project
The Money Project aims to use intuitive visualizations to explore ideas around the very concept of money itself. Founded in 2015 by Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals, the Money Project will look at the evolving nature of money, and will try to answer the difficult questions that prevent us from truly understanding the role that money plays in finance, investments, and accumulating wealth.
A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)
This year marks 100 years since the birth of the Soviet Union. How have countries in and near Europe aligned themselves over the last century?
Timeline: A Century of Unions in Europe (1920-2022)
On February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine launching one of the biggest wars on European soil since World War II. The invasion reflects a longstanding belief of Russia’s that Ukraine—and much of the Soviet Union’s former republics and satellite states—is still their territory to claim. But what is the “former glory” of Russia?
Of the USSR’s former republics and satellite states, many have moved on to join the European Union, and in Putin’s eyes have become more “Westernized” and further from Russian values. In fact, Ukraine recently had its candidacy status approved with the EU.
It’s now been a full century since the formation of the USSR. Much has changed since then, and this visual timeline breaks down how countries within and near Europe have aligned themselves over those 100 years.
The USSR / Soviet Union
The Soviet Union—officially titled the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)—was formed 100 years ago in 1922 and was dissolved in 1991 almost 70 years later. At its height it was home to 15 republics, over 286 million people, and stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Ukraine, with virtual control and influence in countries as far west as East Germany.
Notable leaders characterized both the rise and fall of the USSR, starting with its establishment under Vladimir Lenin until the union’s dissolution under Mikhail Gorbachev. Latvia and Lithuania were among the first republics to make the move for sovereignty, beginning the demise of the Soviet Union.
Here’s a look at which modern day countries were a part of the USSR.
|Modern Day Country||Name Under USSR||Date Joined||Date Gained Independence|
|🇬🇪 Georgia||Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇺🇦 Ukraine||Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇦🇲 Armenia||Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇦🇿 Azerbaijan||Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇧🇾 Belarus||Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇷🇺 Russia||Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic||1922||1991|
|🇺🇿 Uzbekistan||Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic||1924||1991|
|🇹🇲 Turkmenistan||Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic||1924||1991|
|🇹🇯 Tajikistan||Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic||1929||1991|
|🇰🇬 Kyrgyzstan||Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic||1936||1991|
|🇰🇿 Kazakhstan||Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic||1936||1991|
|🇱🇹 Lithuania||Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1990|
|🇪🇪 Estonia||Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1991|
|🇱🇻 Latvia||Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1990|
|🇲🇩 Moldova||Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic||1940||1991|
Additionally, there were multiple satellite states, which were not formally joined with the USSR, but operated under intense Soviet influence.
|Modern Day Country||Country Name at the Time|
|🇦🇱 Albania||People's Republic of Albania|
|🇵🇱 Poland||Polish People's Republic|
|🇧🇬 Bulgaria||People's Republic of Bulgaria|
|🇷🇴 Romania||Romanian People's Republic|
|🇨🇿 Czechia||Czechoslovak Socialist Republic|
|🇸🇰 Slovakia||Czechoslovak Socialist Republic|
|🇩🇪 Germany||East Germany (German Democratic Republic)|
|🇭🇺 Hungary||Hungarian People's Republic|
|🇸🇮 Slovenia||Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇭🇷 Croatia||Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇷🇸 Serbia||Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇧🇦 Bosnia & Herzegovina||Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇲🇪 Montenegro||Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇲🇰 North Macedonia||Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia|
|🇲🇳 Mongolia||Mongolian People's Republic|
Today, there are still some countries that align themselves with Putin and Russia over the EU.
Belarus, sometimes called Europe’s “last dictatorship”, shares a border with both Ukraine and Russia and facilitated the entry of Russian soldiers into Ukraine. Furthermore, according to the Pentagon, Russian missiles have been launched from Belarus.
The European Union
The European Union was officially formed in 1993 and has 27 member states. Some former USSR republics are now a part of the union including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The most recent member to join was Croatia in 2013.
The EU has its roots in the European Coal & Steel Community which was formed in 1952 with Italy, France, West Germany and a few other countries comprising its first members. There are currently six candidate countries on track to join the EU — all but one were either former Soviet satellite states or formal republics:
- 🇦🇱 Albania
- 🇲🇪 Montenegro
- 🇲🇰 North Macedonia
- 🇷🇸 Serbia
- 🇹🇷 Turkey
- 🇺🇦 Ukraine
- 🇲🇩 Moldova
There are many reasons countries opt to join the EU: a common currency, easier movement of goods and people between national borders, and, of course, military protection.
However, in 2020 the UK formally left the union, making it the first country in history to do so. Here’s a look at every EU member state.
|EU Member States||Year Joined||Former USSR Republic?||Former USSR Satellite State?|
|🇩🇪 Germany||1952||No||Yes (East Germany)|
The iron curtain that was draped across Europe, which used to divide the continent politically and ideologically, has since been drawn back. But the war in Ukraine is a threat to many in Europe, and countries such as Poland have voiced fears about the spillover of conflict.
In late June, the European Council approved Ukraine’s bid for expedited candidacy to the EU, but the process will still likely be lengthy—for example, it took Croatia 10 years to formally join at the normal pace.
Beyond other needs such as military support, joining the union would allow refugees from Ukraine the freedom to migrate and work in other EU countries with ease.
Missing Migrants: Visualizing Lost Lives Along the Mediterranean Sea
Each year, thousands of migrants take the journey along the Eastern Mediterranean to get to the EU. Some never make it to their destination.
Missing Migrants: Lost Lives Along the Mediterranean Sea
Each year, thousands of migrants flee war-torn countries in search of asylum.
Even before the migrant crisis caused by the Russo-Ukrainian War, Europe has been the focal point in the past decade. Many refugees from conflicts in Africa and Asia, including those from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and have traveled to Europe along the Eastern Mediterranean migration route—a dangerous passage across the Aegean Sea that weaves along the coastlines of Greece and Turkey.
The journey to reach Europe is risky, and some of the migrants who attempt the crossing never make it. Using data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), this map by Elbie Bentley visualizes the reported deaths and disappearances along the Eastern Mediterranean from 2014 to 2021.
Inspired by Levi Westerveld’s Those Who Did Not Cross, each lost life is captured with its own dot, in an effort to humanize the data.
The 2015 European Crisis
1,863 deaths and disappearances were reported along the Eastern Mediterranean between the years of 2014 and 2021.
Almost half of those recordings came from 2015 during the European migrant crisis, when a record-breaking one million people sought asylum in the EU.
About 800,000 of the one million migrants traveled to Greece through Turkey, with many of the refugees escaping Syria’s civil war.
|European Migrant Crisis by Year||Reported deaths and disappearances|
In an attempt to control the situation, the EU and Turkey signed a migration deal in March 2016 that agreed to send back migrants who did not receive official permission to enter the EU.
Though the agreement drastically reduced the number of people traveling through Turkey to Greece, thousands still make the dangerous journey across the Aegean Sea each year. In 2021, 111 people were reported dead or missing along the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Dangerous Journey
According to the International Organization for Migration, the most common cause of death along the Eastern Mediterranean is drowning.
While the journey is only 5.4 nautical miles or less, transportation conditions to Greece are not always safe. Boats are sometimes forced into tumultuous waters, according to migrants who’ve experienced the journey firsthand.
And these boats are often severely underequipped and overcrowded—rubber dinghies designed to carry a dozen people are sometimes loaded with up to 60 passengers.
Safer means of transportation are available, but the costs are steep. According to Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, it could cost a family an average of €10,000 to travel by yacht.
Rescue Efforts for Migrants is Needed
Further complicating the dangerous journey is a lack of rescue resources.
According to a 2021 report by IOM, the EU does not currently have a dedicated search and rescue team. Instead, the onus is on individual states to patrol their own waters.
Until the crisis is better addressed or local conflicts begin to resolve, there will be an urgent need for increased rescue operations and a standardized migration protocol to help mitigate the number of migrant deaths and disappearances each year.
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