I don't want to alarm anyone, but the Washington Post has a report that well may be a warning that we are approaching an historical singularity in our current political moment that will swallow the entire universe and leave us with nothing but cheap red baseball hats and plastic straws, as well as stick all of us with the bill for destroying the present. It involves a mansion, a Russian, the president*, and Jeffrey Epstein, which is as complete and round a ball of sleazy and corrupt energy as can be imagined.
Let us return then to the luxurious grounds of Maison de l'Amitie in beautiful Palm Beach.
In November 2004, Trump, who was starring in NBC’s “The Apprentice” at the time, declared himself intent on winning “the finest piece of land in Florida and probably the U.S.,” an estate that had been seized as part of the bankruptcy of nursing home magnate Abe Gosman. Trump said he planned to create “the second greatest house in America, Mar-a-Lago being the first” and then resell it.
Epstein was also enraptured by the property, which Gosman had purchased in 1988 for about $12 million from Leslie Wexner, the Ohio-based retail executive who was a friend and patron of Epstein’s. In contrast to Trump, Epstein seemed interested in living at the place. Harley Riedel, an attorney for Gosman, said the previous owner had filled the mansion with pricey art and “really did have in his heart that it would be nice if someone moved in and lived there.”
The auction began with an attempt by one of Epstein’s three attorneys to knock Trump out of the bidding. Attorney Andrew Kamensky argued that Trump was not qualified because he demanded that the property have title insurance or he would not close on the sale. “What I’m telling you is that Mr. Epstein will — he will close,” Kamensky said, according a transcript obtained by The Post.
Trump wasn’t in Palm Beach — his own attorney, Raymond Royce, was in the courtroom. But Trump was on the phone, and now he chimed in to defend himself. Riedel’s first notice that Trump might personally take part in the proceedings came when his voice boomed from the speakerphone. “I was sort of shocked,” the lawyer said. Judge Steven Friedman rejected Epstein’s objection. The bidding began with Epstein’s offer of $37.25 million, but he dropped out after his bid of $38.6 million was topped.
It is unclear whether Trump and Epstein were in contact after the house sale. That month, Trump left two messages for Epstein at his home in Palm Beach, according to records obtained by Vice News — the last known interaction between the two men.
OK, so two unremitting sleazeballs bidding over a piece of prime seafront property in Palm Beach is almost perfectly EpTrumpian. But the singularity is achieved in the story just a few lines later.
Four years after he bought the Gosman mansion, Trump sold it to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million, more than doubling his investment.
Those of you who have been following our story for a while will recall this transaction as having rung a few alarm bells back in 2017, because it seemed fair to speculate that the sale had been engineered to make the president* some bank while giving the Russian oligarch a convenient laundromat for money that had originated in god knows what overseas sewer. From ABC News:
Wyden, who also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said in his letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that he has questions about the deal, which at the time was considered one of the most expensive house sales on record. Wyden noted the deal emerged at a time when published reports indicated Trump was having difficulty finding banks to lend him money and the sale came just months before Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “In the context of the President’s then-precarious financial position, I believe that the Palm Beach property sale warrants further scrutiny,” Wyden wrote.
This speculation intensified in 2018 when Rybolovlev was detained in Monaco on various corruption charges. And, as you may recall, this transaction was only the biggest and loudest of the curious cash real-estate deals between various Volga Bagmen and the president*. But Epstein-to-Trump-to-Russian Oligarch-at-a-fat-profit is a major disturbance in the balance of things. I fear for the survival of the cosmos.
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