President Donald Trump’s name has been removed from the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, four months after it was closed by his friend and Special Adviser on Regulatory Reform, the billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn.
It was Icahn who had persuaded Trump to allow the name to remain above the door when he rescued the casino from bankruptcy in 2015.
Trump, who had had no involvement in the managing of the casino since 2009, had become incensed at the way the Taj, and its sister property, the Plaza, had been run by the group of hedge funds he had sold them to.
Trump had negotiated a deal in 2009 to allow the new owners, Trump Entertainment, to continue to use his name in return for 10 percent of the company. But now he wanted nothing to do with the two properties, and sued to have his name removed.
The lawsuit stated that Trump Entertainment had allowed the two casinos to fall into a state of disrepair, tarnishing a brand that was “synonymous with highest levels of quality, luxury, prestige and success.”
“I want it off both of them,” snapped Trump at the time. “I’ve been away from Atlantic City for many years. People think we operate (the company), and we don’t. It’s not us. It’s not me.”
The name was duly removed from the Plaza, but it seems Trump was willing to back down on the Taj once Icahn, a man he respects, assumed control.
However, it was agreed that the name would be removed by March 2017 if the property was not renovated.
Last Days of the Taj
Icahn held the majority of the Taj’s $286 million debt and he offered to turn that debt into equity, as well as to invest up to $100 million in the property, provided the city grant him certain concessions.
These included the temporary cessation of health insurance and pension benefits for workers, which incurred the wrath of casino workers’ union Unite 54.
Industrial action ensued and picket lines that plagued the Taj throughout 2016 ultimately lead to the casino’s closure in October.
Trump had declared the Taj to be the eighth wonder of the world when he opened it in 1990, having purchased it, unfinished, from Resorts International for $230 million. By the time it was completed, it had cost $1 billion to build, and was declared bankrupt later that year. It was the first of many times this wonder of the world found itself insolvent.
Icahn, who was suspected of planning to reopen the Taj and a non-unionized casino, said recently the property would be sold.