In a surprise appearance, former President Donald Trump headlined the first day of Grant Cardone’s 10X Growth Conference in Hollywood.
Inside a third-floor ballroom at the Diplomat Beach Resort Hollywood on Friday, a majority of the 3,500 attendees roared their approval when Cardone, a social media influencer and reality star who parlayed his fame into a crowd-funding real estate juggernaut, welcomed Trump to a spinning circular stage bathed in blue, red and white strobe lights.
“Some of you know this guy because he is a real estate mogul,” Cardone told the audience. “But most of you know him as the 45th President of the U.S.”
As the song “God Bless the U.S.A” blared through the speaker system, the mostly pro-Trump crowd rose to its feet and chanted, “U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!” Two people with front row seats, who appeared to have been tipped off, unfurled a blue Trump 2020 flag.
The 10X Growth Conference is an annual gathering of Cardone acolytes headlined by surprise celebrity speakers. It’s also a forum for Cardone to recruit new investors for his various business ventures, including his Aventura-based real estate firm Cardone Capital.
During a nearly hour-long fireside chat, Trump, who lives at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, gave his insights into the red-hot Palm Beach residential market and revealed that Las Vegas casino king Steve Wynn flips houses as a hobby. Trump admitted his presidency put a dent in the Trump brand, and brought up old grievances, such as his false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election. He also recalled allegedly threatening Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine while he was still in the White House.
Trump, arguably America’s most famous real estate developer who headed the Trump Organization, also gave a strong statement about his intentions to run for the presidency again in 2024. “Because of ridiculous campaign finance laws you can’t announce early, and you’re not allowed to,” Trump said. “We will wait until the appropriate time, but I think people are going to be very happy.”
Trump claimed that the Russia-Ukraine war would not have happened on his watch because he took a hard line with Putin, whom he’s previously praised as a “genius.” While he was president, Trump alleged he warned Putin to back off Ukraine. “He told me he had very strong feelings about Ukraine,” Trump said. “I said, ‘Listen, you and I have a great relationship, and we get along, but if you go into Ukraine, I will hit Russia harder than it’s ever been hit.”
Politics aside, Trump told Cardone that he’s astonished by the rising price of luxury homes in Palm Beach. “It’s the most expensive [market] in the country, maybe the world,” Trump said. “People are making a tremendous amount of money.”
To illustrate his point, Trump shared an anecdote about a friend who recently sold a Palm Beach house for $25 million. “He sold it on a Friday,” Trump said. “The guy who bought it, flipped it for $45 million over the weekend. I said [to my friend] when are you getting a new lawyer and a new broker? I have only seen prices go up.”
Palm Beach is definitely a seller’s market. An entity tied to Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania-based family office investors Clay and Lynn Hamlin recently paid $17.8 million for a Palm Beach townhouse, more than double the purchase price in February 2020. Earlier this month, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee Ocleppo Hilfiger, sold a non-waterfront Palm Beach house to Fox News host and political correspondent Bret Baier for $12 million. The couple sold the property for 33 percent more than they paid one year ago.
While on the subject of house flipping, Trump said Wynn, the billionaire founder of Wynn Resorts, is a master at that aspect of the real estate game. “He does it for sport,” Trump said. “He will buy a house, fix it up a little and sell it. He doesn’t need to do it, but he likes it.”
Of course, Trump also brought up his controversial place in U.S. history and his recent life in politics. “I thought I had the greatest brand,” he said. “Now, in a certain way, I have a better brand, but it is a much different brand. When you run in politics, you lose 50 percent. You look at people like [fashion designer] Ralph Lauren, they are very apolitical. They don’t want to lose 50 percent of their audience.”
Even though he is a twice-impeached former president, he still loves politics, Trump said. “I had more witch hunts, and that is not pleasant,” Trump said. “The greatest day of my life was the day before I announced I was running for president. My company was the strongest. Everything was perfect.”
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that a former Manhattan prosecutor investigating Trump and his company wrote in a Feb. 23 resignation letter that he believed the former president was “guilty of numerous felony violations,” and that it was “a grave failure of justice” not to hold him accountable. The investigation into the Trump Organization recently stalled because Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has doubts about the case, according to published reports.
As with his previous five annual conferences, Cardone did not disclose in advance the identities of the celebrities speaking at the three-day event.
However, the presence of Transportation Security Administration and Secret Service agents manning the security checkpoint before the start of the conference hinted that Cardone had landed a very important political figure. Mar-a-Lago, the private club and resort in Palm Beach, is owned by the Trump Organization.
In December, Cardone closed on the $744 million purchase of four multifamily properties in Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise and Weston, which marked South Florida’s biggest multifamily portfolio deal of 2021. Also last year, a federal judge dismissed a jilted Los Angeles real estate investor’s lawsuit against Cardone and Cardone Capital that alleged Cardone misled investors.