In a 2017 survey of Trump Place residents at 200 Riverside Boulevard, 158 of 217 yay-or-nay voters said they wanted to take the Trump name off the condominium building for good. And this January, they sued Donald Trump’s DJT Holdings for the right to do just that.
On Tuesday, one of the dissenters filed an affidavit in court protesting the board’s decision to sue. “In connection with the purchase of my condominium unit,” the resident, Bruce Messinger, wrote, “it was represented to me … that the building where I would be living would always be named ‘200 Riverside Boulevard at Trump Place.’”
It turns out that Messinger may be above and beyond the typical Trump fanboy. He is an investor in and manager of Red Square Media, a public relations shop that, in the words of one of its other executives, “will be the pioneer in delivering American celebrity coverage to the Russian speaking world.”
Red Square Media operates out of Messinger’s Trump Place unit, 26E, and “creat[es] content for large-reaching outlets including Russia’s Channel One, VK, Hearst/ShkulevMedia and hundreds of blogs and Websites,” according to a company media kit reviewed by The Real Deal. The media kit shares some elements with Red Square GC, a media company headquartered on Akademika Koroleva street in Moscow.
Richard Larson, Messinger’s partner and the company president, touts his personal connections to President Trump on the company website, where he claims that he worked as a “private designer” for the president. He also claims to have founded a real estate investment firm, which according to Red Square’s website, “focuse[s] on acquisitions of Trump properties throughout New York City.”
A Richard E. Larson Jr. has owned two condos at 220 Riverside Boulevard, another Trump Place building, paying $1.5 million for a unit in 2004 and $535,000 for another the year before, according to property records. Another apartment in Larson’s name was at Trump World Tower. Larson sold all three of these apartments through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, records show, with the Trump Place units selling to Retained Realty Inc., a firm connected to Howard Milstein’s Emigrant Savings Bank.
Neither Messinger or Larson responded to requests for comment. TRD was unable to find the name of the Trump-focused investment company Larson reportedly owns or find any evidence that he currently owns Trump properties.
Some of Trump’s closest advisers have lived in his buildings. Michael Cohen, now Trump’s personal attorney, first established a relationship with him by purchasing apartments in several Trump buildings. Trump’s White House aide, Kellyanne Conway, first got acquainted with him while serving on the condo board at Trump World Tower. She and her husband sided with the Trump Organization in 2006, when the condo board wanted to remove the Trump name from the building. And former campaign chief Paul Manafort has lived at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.
In his affidavit, Messinger argues Trump Place’s residential committee “hijack[ed]” the normal process for meeting and voting on key building issues, and further accused board members of silencing his speech on a community message board for unit owners, court filings show.
“Should we really risk the future of our home and our finances because people have decided they are not happy with the President, which if we are being honest, is the primary motivation behind the decision of the Board?” Messinger, who donated modest amounts to both Trump and Ted Cruz’s 2016 election campaigns, asked in a separate letter filed in court.
The Daily News reported on new filings in the case on Wednesday, which reveal the back-and-forth between the residents and the Trump Organization, and how the board has dealt with dissenters such as Messinger.
Representatives for the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An attorney for the condo board declined to comment. Robert Levy, co-president of the condo board, could not immediately be reached.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is deep into an investigation regarding possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian nationals during the 2016 presidential race. Trump has frequently denied any collusion as well as even doing any business with Russia.
“I have no deals in Russia,” Trump said early last year. The New York Times later reported that Trump was pursuing a new skyscraper development in Moscow as recently as early 2016.