A Russian billionaire paid Donald Trump $95 million for a Palm Beach mansion nearly a decade ago — a substantially higher price than the future president had paid several years earlier and more expensive than any other home for sale at the time.
Dmitry Rybolovlev paid Trump an unusually high $50 million premium to Trump in 2008 for the property, which the Russian billionaire bought as an investment rather than a residence, reported the Palm Beach Post.
The mansion, which Trump had bought for $41.35 million in 2004, turned out to have a mold problem and was torn down last year and divided into three lots, once of which sold afterward for $34 million — although that buyer remains a mystery.
Rybolovlev, who made his fortune selling fertilizer potash, denied “directly or indirectly” owning any property in Florida during divorce proceedings a couple years after purchasing the mansion through an LLC.
“Somebody paid me $100 million,” Trump told a reporter in February 2011.
At the time, the purchase was the highest price paid for any single-family home in the country.
Rybolovlev, who recently lost $150 million in an art deal, claims he has never met Trump — but he has often flown his private plane to cities where Trump is visiting.
Federal Aviation Administration records show Rybolovlev’s private plane arrived in Las Vegas in October, an hour after a Trump campaign event began.
The following month, Rybolovlev’s plane arrived in Charlotte, North Carolina, 90 minutes before Trump’s plane arrived for a campaign event five days before the election.
The two men’s planes were both at Miami International Airport last month, on the same weekend Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
Trump also denies ever meeting Rybolovlev, an investor in the Kremlin-friendly Bank of Cyrus — which came up in the confirmation hearings of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a vice-chairman of the bank since 2014.
“No member of the Trump campaign or Mr. Trump met with Mr. Rybolovlev during the campaign or any other time,” a White House official told Business Insider this week.
“No one was even aware of the plane until receiving a similar email about this (Monday),” the official said. “For a press corps so obsessed with evidence, proof and feigning a general disgust at even the hint of conspiracy, this is pretty rich.”
Democratic senators were unhappy with the response of Ross to questions about whether the Bank of Cyprus had extended loans to the Trump campaign or Trump Organization, although the investor verbally told lawmakers he didn’t know of such transactions.