The Real Deal Miami

Rubin wins Emerald Dunes Golf Club in bidding war with Trump

By Alexander Britell | June 14, 2010 03:30PM

Donald Trump and Steven Rubin

Lawyer Steven Rubin engaged Donald Trump in a heated online bidding war at the end of last month, winning the Emerald Dunes Golf Club in Royal Palm Beach for just over $15 million.

The private club, which lost a $16 million foreclosure judgment in March, was sold for $15,000,100 in an online auction May 20. Trump’s bid was $15 million, according to Palm Beach County records.

Rubin, a sole practitioner in Boca Raton, specializes in real estate law. He purchased the club through a limited liability corporation, Florida Emerald Dunes Acquisition, from Lehman Brothers Holdings.

“I wanted to buy it,” Trump told The Real Deal. “I thought I would go up to $12 million, because I felt it was going to go for $7 or $8 [million].” Trump said he had intended, if successful in the bid, to convert Emerald Dunes into a public course.

He said the quality of the course was not high enough to justify keeping it private, however.

“I think you could convert it into a really good public course, and I would recommend that to Mr. Rubin. Because it could never be great as a private course, it’s just not good enough,” he said.

The $100 difference is a bit deceptive. According to the rules of South Florida’s online foreclosure auctions, bidders must place a maximum bid in advance; if one bid is higher, no matter by how much, it will be listed as being just $100 higher.

Rubin’s actual bid was not disclosed. Trump’s maximum placed bid was $15 million. Trump and Rubin were the only bidders other than the bank.

“Do I think that system’s any good?” he asked. “No, but I wouldn’t have gone any higher. And I actually felt that I went higher than I thought I would have. I thought it was going to go to $12 million, and I figured I’d go up a few million bucks.”

The club’s troubles, in fact, began only a few years after it was converted into a private course, after Emerald Dunes Golf Course purchased it in 2005 for $20.4 million.

The foreclosure action on the club was first filed in 2009 after Emerald Dunes Golf Course was delinquent on a $15 million loan. Rubin was traveling and could not be reached for comment.  

Got a tip? Email Alexander Britell at ab@therealdeal.com