The Trump Organization was prepared to offer Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse as part of a marketing stunt to sell units in its proposed Trump Tower Moscow.
Two U.S. law enforcement officials shared details of the penthouse giveaway with BuzzFeed News hours after President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty on Thursday to a new criminal charge in connection with his role in negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow. The proposed 100-story tower was never built.
The idea of giving Putin a penthouse came from Russian-born developer Felix Sater, who previously worked on the Trump SoHo hotel and condo, among other Trump licensing deals.
“In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater told BuzzFeed. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.”
Sater said Cohen’s response to his proposition was, “Great idea.”
The law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed that Cohen talked about it with an assistant for Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov.
Cohen told the court on Thursday that he lied to Congress about negotiations for the Trump Tower Moscow project, which were renewed in summer 2016 amid the Republican primary campaign, to protect the president. Cohen also admitted to downplaying his role.
It is not clear whether Trump knew about the penthouse plan but he told reporters on Thursday that, as he went into the 2016 presidential election, he felt “there was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won… in which case I would have gotten back into the business, and why should I lose lots of opportunities?”
During a panel earlier this fall, Sater described doing business with Trump: “I would show him a deal and he’d say, ‘let’s go,’” he recalled. “The due diligence part was kind of light.” [BuzzFeed] — Erin Hudson