“I beat China all the time,” Mr. Trump declared in a speech the day he announced his candidacy. “I own a big chunk of the Bank of America building at 1290 Avenue of the Americas that I got from China in a war. Very valuable.”
Mr. Trump does have an investment in the building, an office tower near Rockefeller Center. But court documents and interviews with people involved in the deal tell a very different story of how he ended up with it.It began when a group of Hong Kong billionaires, including one who has been called the Donald Trump of China, helped rescue Mr. Trump from the verge of bankruptcy by investing in one of his properties in Manhattan.
For years, the carefully cultivated relationship between Mr. Trump and his Hong Kong partners proved lucrative for both sides, and stands out as perhaps the closest that Mr. Trump has come to international diplomacy.
To strike the deal, Mr. Trump had to attend elaborate dinner parties featuring foreign foods he did not want to eat. He delayed the closing because of Chinese spiritual beliefs and hunted around New York for a “feng shui” master to help with the building décor, instead of indulging his tastes for marble and gold, according to former associates of Mr. Trump who were involved in the deal.
But when his Hong Kong partners sold the property without his support, Mr. Trump waged a bitter, long-shot legal battle against them. And far from winning his share of the Bank of America building, according to court documents, he had to settle for it after losing in court.