How Trump's Taj Mahal Casino Went From ‘8th Wonder of the World’ to Closure After Years of Losses

A little over a year after it opened, the Trump Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy and Trump's two other Atlantic City casinos followed suit the next year.

The Trump Taj Mahal Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was advertised as the eighth wonder of the world when it opened in 1990.

Though that multi-million dollar haul may sound impressive, gaming industry financial analyst Marvin Roffman says he knew at the time it wasn't sustainable.



"The man didn't pay us because he didn't have the money, bottom line," said Rosenberg.

Trump sold his interest in the Trump Taj Mahal in 2009. the letter that I didn't write," Roffman said. On his show, Leach said the casino made $2 million on its opening day.

"Some went bankrupt. The market just isn't there."

The whole spectacle was captured by Robin Leach, celebrity journalist to the stars. And it was faxed to Donald Trump. Michael Jackson was the guest of honor.

"We can't give back anymore. We survived because we were very busy in Atlantic City," Rosenberg said.

According to Roffman, Trump was so upset with Roffman's grim prediction for the Trump Taj Mahal that he called Roffman's boss. But he wasn't alone. After our last offer, which included medical, was rejected, it was simply impossible to find a workable path forward that would not have required funding additional investments and losses in excess of $100 million over the next year. But I want you to understand something. We're coming in as a group now,'" said Rosenberg.

Roffman said Trump called him the day after he bought the Trump Taj Mahal to get his advice.

Negotiations between the union and Icahn failed, so some Trump Taj Mahal employees went on strike this summer, prompting Icahn to close the casino for good.

Trump set his sights on Atlantic City after he had successfully completed the Trump Tower in Manhattan in the 1980s.

In Atlantic City, Trump bought three casinos: Trump Plaza, Trump Castle and the Trump Taj Mahal. You've taken everything from me that I've ever worked for," Baker said while on strike.

On his website this week, Icahn posted a statement about the casino's closure: "Today is a sad day for Atlantic City. He made promises when he came to the city. Trump has not been involved for many years and has been given great credit for his timing."

"I had a telephone call from Mr. But he said Trump didn't uphold his end of the deal.

Roffman said he then wrote a new letter to Trump, retracting his boss' retraction letter. Trump settled the suit out of court with no admission of wrongdoing.

Issues also arose between Trump and the hotel's contractors. I've got nothing else to give. And the very next day he called and said he wanted changes made to that letter ... The opulence, the size, the everything is really what's going to make the Taj Mahal the most successful hotel anywhere in the world," Trump told ABC News' Charles Gibson in 1990.

Roffman turned out to be exactly right about the Trump Taj Mahal. So I don't see, you know, him doing anything great for America."

But on Oct. The casino shut down at 5:59 a.m., Oct. You can't pay me off and not pay everybody else off. Trump's personal attorney and he said to me, 'What is this about a meeting?' I said, 'We want to get paid.' He says, 'Well how can I stop this meeting?' I said, "It's relatively simple. Despite our best efforts, which included losing almost $350 million over just a few short years, we were unable to save the Taj Mahal. But once the cold winds blow from October to February it won't make it. And I thought, 'This whole thing smells.' And it's very, very serious."

Rosenberg said he and six other unpaid workers banded together on behalf of the entire group and forced a meeting with Trump.

A person walks from the Trump Taj Mahal early on Oct. He said Trump didn't honor the financial obligations to over 100 contractors who helped complete the Trump Taj Mahal.

Trump told ABC News the day before the Trump Taj Mahal opened that he was out to get Roffman, saying, "When somebody does something wrong and says something wrong, and somebody's in a conflict position, I decided in this particular case to go after him."

Trump threw a grand opening party that seemed as lavish as the casino itself. "I don't believe in anything he says. Either make Roffman apologize publicly or fire him, Roffman says Trump told his boss.

Roffman also sued Trump for defamation of character. Then he took his money, and he left. I said, 'Okay. No casino in the world ever had a win anywhere near approaching that kind of number," said Roffman.

For Baker, there's no question about how he'll vote in November.

"The scale, Charlie, is what brings the people. Once we meet I have an obligation and I will stick to it. At the time I said, 'We always do a good job.' And I didn't get paid," Rosenberg said.

Last summer, Rosenberg shared his experiences of working for Trump at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in Atlantic City.. "The letter went out, and they fired me on the spot," Roffman said.

After several rounds of negotiations, Rosenberg said he and the other contractors settled with Trump for less than what they were owed with devastating results.

"I said, 'Well, why would you want to have three casinos? One is going to cannibalize the other,'" Roffman told ABC News' "Nightline." "And here was his response: 'Marvin, you have no vision. He bought the casino after Resorts International couldn't finish the construction. Some lost their businesses. He is not my choice," Baker said. This is going to be a monster property.' And those were the exact words."

Rosenberg said Trump owed him over $1 million. 10, 2016, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Roffman said what really worried him about the Trump Taj Mahal was how Trump had financed it -- with an extremely high interest loan.

Rosenberg said the Trump Taj Mahal job nearly cost him his entire company, which was contracted to provide glass, mirrors and doors. "He wanted changes made to that letter which would absolutely be against my -- of what I thought was going to happen. A judge awarded him $750,000.



Members of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, Tina Condos, a cocktail waitress at Trump Taj Mahal and Keith Fullmer, a bartender, shout early in the morning outside the closing Trump Taj Mahal on Oct. 10, 2016.

"He promised me, personally, if we did a good job, we would get paid. Like many of the employees at the Taj Mahal, I wish things had turned out differently."

It was Donald Trump's biggest and boldest real estate project to date.

In an emailed statement to "Nightline" about the Trump Taj Mahal closure, a Trump campaign spokesperson said, "Mr. 10, 2016, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Trump completed construction on the project and inherited all the union workers who had started building it.

"So I signed the letter. His friend and supporter Carl Icahn eventually took it on in 2014.

Roffman said his boss drafted a letter retracting what he'd said to The Journal and told him to sign the letter or else.

Later, Roffman went on to sue his employer for wrongful termination.

Charles Baker, who started working at Trump Taj Mahal 26 years ago, said the union clashed with Icahn over things like health benefits and paid lunch breaks.

"I will not vote for Donald Trump. He got the Trump Taj Mahal after its original owner, Resorts International, couldn't complete construction on it.

Trump Taj Mahal on opening day, April 5, 1990 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

"Had I known that Trump was going to take over the job, I would have never done the job," Martin Rosenberg told "Nightline."

Michael Jackson and Donald Trump at Donald Trump's Taj Mahal Casino opening on April 5, 1990 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Just weeks before the casino opened, Roffman told The Wall Street Journal, "When this property opens he will have had so much free publicity he will break every record in the books in April, June and July ... 10 at 5:59 a.m., the lights went off at the Trump Taj Mahal after 26 years, leaving thousands of middle class workers without jobs.

"The Taj would have to make close to $1.3 million a day to break even. Give me a check for $1.2 million.' He laughed. I am extremely grateful to all of the almost 3,000 employees for their hard work, especially those that stayed loyal to us during this trying period

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