The craziest moments in the sordid history of Trump SoHo, the five-star hotel and condo building that will lose the Trump name

  • The Trump SoHo hotel and condo building opened in 2010.
  • Last week, the news broke that the Trump Organisation would end its contract with the real estate investment firm that owns Trump SoHo.
  • The cofounder of the development firm that the Trump Organisation worked with on Trump SoHo, Felix Sater, is currently being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Last week, The New York Times reported that the Trump Organisation would be cutting ties with Trump SoHo, the five-star Downtown Manhattan hotel and condo building that bears the family name but has been owned by the California-based investment firm CIM Group since 2014.

As part of the deal, the tower will no longer bear the Trump name, but the Trump Organisation will still get a share of its revenue.

The hotel has run into various problems since its inception. Aside from empty rooms and recent layoffs, Trump SoHo and its origin story have been under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is actively investigating President Trump’s previous business dealings to determine whether the campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

From grave sites to bar fights, see why the tower’s twisted past is being so closely examined.


Donald Trump announced plans to develop Trump SoHo in 2006, during the fifth season of his NBC television show, “The Apprentice.”

The Apprentice/NBC

Trump’s company had a licensing agreement with the building’s developers, the Sapir Organisation and Bayrock Group. The neighbourhood wasn’t exactly welcoming. Both the Soho Alliance and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation protested the building’s size, as well as its apparent flouting of the neighbourhood’s zoning laws.

Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Because the area wasn’t zoned for residential properties, the 391 condo-hotel units were built for owners to live in for 120 days of the year. They could choose to rent out their units for the remainder of the time.

Source: Curbed, LA Times, NPR’s Embedded


By the end of the year, construction had been halted due to the discovery of human bones and coffin plates from the Spring Street Presbyterian Church, which was an abolitionist church that had burial grounds on-site. The bones, which came from around 190 people, dated back to the years between 1820 and 1835.


The developers promised a proper re-burial, but when the building officially opened in 2010, the SoHo Alliance published a statement saying: “Trump and his wealthy partners at Bayrock/Sapir so far have not come up with the funding for a proper burial of the graves he dug up, if they even know where the remains are!” It wasn’t until 2014 that the remains were finally placed in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Source: The Villager, NPR’s Embedded, Curbed


In January 2008, a construction worker fell 42 stories to his death. Broken wooden supports were blamed.

Source: New York Times


Behind the scenes, more potential trouble was brewing. Condo sales were slow, and Bayrock, whose offices were inside Trump Tower in Midtown, also had a separate lawsuit filed against them.

Getty/Spencer Platt

In 2008 and 2009, both Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr., who had been involved with Trump SoHo, made statements claiming that the building had sold 55%-60% of its units. However, it was later discovered that only 15%-30% had sold.

Source: The New York Times


Those who had purchased units pressed charges, claiming that their false statements had created a fraudulent enticement for investors. The case was settled in 2011, and the condo buyers were refunded 90% of $US3.16 million in deposits.

Source: The New York Times


Around the same time, another lawsuit was brewing. Filed by Bayrock’s former finance director, Jody Kriss, it involved the company’s then managing director, Felix H. Sater. The lawsuit claimed that funding for Trump SoHo came in from questionable sources in Russia and Kazakhstan, via Sater and the other cofounder, Tevfik Arif.

Michael Loccisano/Getty ImagesThe lobby inside Trump SoHo

Source: The New York Times


Sater, a Russian immigrant, was arrested in 1993 for his role in a bar fight in New York City, during which he stabbed a man in the face with a broken margarita glass. In 1998, he was accused of being a co-conspirator in a $US40 million fraud and money-laundering scheme involving four Mafia families. He later became a confidential FBI informant.

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

This summer, Sater made it back into the news thanks to emails that were unveiled by The New York Times. Those emails revealed that Sater had been pushing for the Trump Organisation to pursue a massive real-estate deal in Moscow during the 2016 presidential election.

Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: The New York Times


Now, Bayrock and Sater are under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller. In May, Mueller was assigned to examine Trump’s business dealings to determine whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.


Last week, it was announced that The Trump Organisation would end its contract with the real estate investment firm that currently owns Trump SoHo.

Source: Business Insider

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