Friday, April 15, 2011


Trump Buys Kluge Winery–But He’s Not The Only One Apr. 8 2011 - 2:14 pm By MORGAN BRENNAN


Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump has been making quite the stir in recent weeks with veiled hints at a 2012 presidential run and repeated jabs at President Obama on the “birther” issue. Amid all the media appearances, The Donald has found time to bail out long-time friend Patricia Kluge, the financially distressed ex-wife of late media billionaire John Kluge. Yesterday Trump Organization snatched up land parcels of the 900 acre, Charlottesville-based Kluge Estates Winery and Vineyard, which the socialite-turned-vintner lost in foreclosure to Farm Creditor of Virginia this past December.

But Trump, who’s $2.7 billion personal fortune landed him at #420 on this year’s World’s Billionaires list, isn’t the only knight in shining armor for Kluge. The winery actually has two new owners: Trump and Sal Cangiano, a real estate developer in northern Virginia....

...Trump plans to keep the winemaking going, most likely with Kluge and husband William Moses staying on to run the operation, the Washington Post reported. The tracts already zoned for housing went to Cangiano. The farm equipment also found new owners this morning in an unrelated sale with a different auction house.

According to Newberry, yesterday’s land sale was a success: “We got a fair price that was good for both the buyers and the sellers in this kind of economy.” That’s somewhat good news for Farm Creditor of Virginia, who had unsuccessfully tried to auction the winery in December with a minimum bid set at a lofty and unrealistic $19 million. The lender is out that extra $11 million but $8 million is still better than none.

It’s also good news for Kluge (and current husband Bill Moses), who defaulted on $35 million in loans leveraged against the winery after attempts to both expand wine production and roll out an adjoining luxury real estate development failed. Her wines had received industry accolades and even made their way onto the tables of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding reception last year and if Trump keeps the business open that will continue.

In general, Kluge’s financial woes have been the subject of many a headline in recent months, as she also lost her grand Albemarle Estate (once valued at $100 million) to foreclosure with Bank of America in February and was forced to sell off her jewelry, artwork and furniture through Sotheby’s last summer.

Trump has also been working on acquiring ownership of Albemarle, for which Trump Organization holds the Right of First Refusal. He already owns the 216 acres spanning the grand estate’s front lawn.

also...ready Richard Leahy's version of events: