Donald Trump now claims he was "not a fan" of convicted multimillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, but in 2002, as The Inquisitr reported, Trump said that he had been friends with "terrific guy" Epstein for 15 years, dating their personal relationship back to 1987. But why Trump ended his long friendship with Epstein has remained unclear.
On Wednesday, however, The Washington Post appeared to have discovered the answer to the cause of the Trump-Epstein rift — a real estate deal.
Epstein and Trump "were neighbors in Florida. They jetted from LaGuardia to Palm Beach together. They partied at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club and dined at Epstein's Manhattan mansion," according to the Post report. But in 2004, both Epstein and Trump decided that they each wanted to own yet another Palm Beach oceanside mansion, but this time, it was the same one.
The lavish estate was named Maison de l'Amitie, which is French for "House of Friendship, but their competition plunged a wedge into the friendship between Trump and Epstein — one that would never be repaired. Though Epstein placed the first bid on the massive mansion, an offer of $37.25 million, Trump "made up his mind to get it no matter the price," a lawyer for the family that had owned the mansion and was now selling as part of a bankruptcy auction told The Post.The bidding became bitter, with both Trump and Epstein telling the bankruptcy trustee that the other was untrustworthy. Eventually, Trump won the Maison de l'Amitie with a bid of more than $41 million. But Trump may have had a strong motive for pursuing the Palm Beach property even at the cost of his longtime friendship with his party companion Epstein. Just four years later, despite making few significant upgrades to the mansion, Trump sold the palatial 62,000-square-foot, 17-bedroom estate to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for a stunning $95 million, according to a Politico report.
The deal in which Trump more than doubled his initial investment even though Ryboloev simply allowed the mansion to stand empty and unoccupied has been seen by congressional investigators as a possible example of a money-laundering scheme, as ABC News reported, that could have functioned as a payoff to Trump.
"One possibility is that Russian leader Vladimir Putin saw an opportunity to exploit Trump's financial problems to obtain his loyalty and indebtedness," wrote California House representative Jackie Speier in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed last year.
Regardless of Trump's motives in playing hardball with his then-friend Epstein to win the mansion out of auction, the two men appear never to have spoken again. Days after Trump bought the mansion, he called Epstein and left two messages, according to records obtained by Vice News. But those two calls appear to be the final communications between the two men, and whether Epstein returned Trump's calls is unknown. The mansion was demolished in 2016.