Carl Icahn Formally Hands Off Trump Taj Mahal to Hard Rock International, Name Change Imminent

Posted on: April 4, 2017, 12:01h. 

Last updated on: April 4, 2017, 12:02h.

The Trump Taj Mahal is soon to be become the Hard Rock Atlantic City, following the finalization last Friday of a deal believed to be worth $300 million. The sale brings to a close a long and often troubled history for the casino once owned by President Donald Trump.

Hard Rock International buys Trump Taj Mahal
End of an era: A young Donald Trump poses in front of the Trump Taj Mahal, circa 1991. Several bankruptcies later, it’s now in the hands of Hard Rock International. (Image: Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News)

Florida’s Seminole tribe owns Hard Rock International, and agreed to purchase the shuttered casino at the beginning of March from billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who closed it down last October. The 45th POTUS has not been involved in the running of the casino since 2009.

Hard Rock, which owns numerous casinos around the world (although, confusingly, not the Hard Rock in Las Vegas), as well as over 100 branded cafes internationally, has long considered the possibility of owning a casino in New Jersey.

Staking a Claim in AC Market

In 2011, Hard Rock proposed building one of its familiar rock n’ roll music-themed resorts at the southern end of the Boardwalk that would draw from New Jersey’s rich musical history. The project never came to fruition, abandoned due to unfavorable market conditions.

But by 2013, the company had purchased a stake in the Meadowlands Racetrack in North Jersey, in anticipation that voters would choose to expand casino gaming beyond Atlantic City. That hope was quashed last November when state residents overwhelmingly rejected the idea. Hard Rock was also known to be interested in purchasing the Revel (now renamed TEN and not yet reopened for business) in 2014.

Hard Rock said it would hold a press conference on Wednesday to unveil its plans for the casino. If its 2011 proposal is anything to go by, expect lots of guitars (formerly owned by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi) and maybe a couple of Frank Sinatra’s fedoras.

Hard Rock International is the largest owner of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia in the world.

Bringing Jobs Back

Icahn closed the Trump Taj in October after months of industrial action by workers who protested the cessation of health care and pension benefits. The mogul said in January that he’d lost around $300 million during his short-lived ownership of the casino, having rescued it from bankruptcy a year earlier. He claimed he would be “delighted” if he could sell it for half that, he said at the time.

Some 2,100 people ultimately lost their jobs when Icahn Enterprises said it could “no longer see a path to profitability,” and closed its doors. The Hard Rock has said that it expects the rebranded casino to create 3,000 temporary and permanent jobs.