The abandoned bin Laden mansion on sale for $28 million

Portfolio
[Originally written for and published by lovePROPERTY.com]

The bin Ladens in Bel Air

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Bel Air in Los Angeles has quite the roster of family names tucked among its illustrious hills, from the Carters – Jay-Z and Beyoncé that is – to media moguls the Murdochs. For almost four decades the area has also housed a property belonging to a family now recognised the world over – the bin Ladens. Ibrahim bin Laden is Osama bin Laden’s half-brother, and the eldest of his 55 siblings, and his 7,106-square-foot Bel Air home has recently come onto the market for $28 million(£20.1m).

A home left abandoned

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Ibrahim never returned to his LA house following Al Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, and the property has remained empty ever since. The multimillion-dollar valuation is based on the value of the land alone, which is a spacious 94,037-square-foot plot, but the hastily abandoned property remains standing, for now. Click or scroll through to take a tour of the former residence of the bin Ladens and to discover more about their lavish LA lifestyle…  

Hollywood home in the hills

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Designed in the Mediterranean Revival style and built in 1931, 634 Stone Canyon Road had a number of famous faces grace its gates before the bin Ladens moved in. In the 1960s, Hollywood actor Arthur Freed, who produced classics including Meet Me In St. Louis and Singin’ In the Rain, called the property home, and the following decade it was renovated by American architect to the stars John Elgin Woolf. 

Rubbing shoulders with royalty

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Ibrahim bin Laden was born into the wealthy echelons of the bin Laden family, who had close ties to the Saudi royal family. The clan first forged their fortune in the early 20th century with the founding of a family construction site. The Binladin Group Global Holding Company still exists today, and the conglomerate is currently in the process of building the Jeddah Tower, which is set to be the largest tower in the world. According to later court proceedings, Ibrahim “never worked a day in his life” and he didn’t expect to live up to his father’s financial legacy. It was his inherited wealth that allowed him to follow in the real estate footsteps of Hollywood royalty when he left his home in Saudi Arabia.

The bin Ladens move in

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Ibrahim moved to LA to attend the University of Southern California, according to Steven Coll’s 2008 book The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. Ibrahim bought this bubblegum pink villa-style mansion in 1983, at a cost of $1.65 million (£1.1m). He then met socialite Christine Hartunian while mingling with the monied elites of Beverly Hills and the pair married at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 1987. Christine then moved into her new husband’s Stone Canyon home and the couple had a daughter called Sibba in 1989. 

A bustling household 

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS At one time the couple had swathes of staff to help with the upkeep of their seven-bedroom, five-bathroom Mediterranean-style villa, including full-time groundskeepers and household staff. Private security detail was also hired to add an extra layer of protection to this gated community property.

Pools and palm trees

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

The Barbie Dreamhouse-esque property also features a built-in pool surrounded by palm trees, which remain in bizarrely good shape today despite a lack of household staff, or indeed owners, living in the property for several decades. This picture-perfect setting would have been ideal for Christine to pursue her numerous hobbies, which included painting, sculpting, private needlepoint lessons and classes in Arabic and English. She also purchased a Steinway piano for the Bel Air property.

Cars for all seasons

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Ibrahim kept a collection of luxury cars in the five-car garage, including two Rolls-Royces, a Mercedes 500 SEL, a Lamborghini jeep, a Honda and a Lexus. While the family hired chauffeurs, Ibrahim enjoyed taking his wheels out for a spin himself – except if it was raining. The auto aficionado would reportedly rent a Mercedes for around $350 (£327) a day so as not to drive his precious Rolls-Royces in bad weather. Now the property’s parking spaces sit empty and overgrown with foliage, having not housed a vehicle – rented or otherwise – for years. 

Travelling in style 

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

The bin Ladens may have lived in style but they also enjoyed spending time away from their pink paradise home. When it came to travelling, the family experienced only the best. Ibrahim and his family frequently splashed out on lavish holidays abroad, typically flying first-class or using one of their own private jets to get around. Europe was a favourite destination, particularly Switzerland and its lengthy ski seasons, while the family also indulged in trips closer to home such as minibreaks to Hawaii.

Parties in the pink palace

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Before it was left to decay, 634 Stone Canyon Road was quite the party pad. In 1990 the bin Ladens reportedly spent $7,000 (£4.2k) on a birthday party for toddler Sibba and the extravagant affair featured a monkey, five rental horses, a hot air balloon, a private disk jockey, a photographer, catering and gifts for guests, according to a statement Christine later provided in court. With the property’s last guests long since ushered out, moss and dirt now coat the patio.

Marriage breakdown

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Ibrahim and Christine divorced in November 1991 after almost half a decade of marriage. Daughter Sibba was two years old at the time, and Christine moved with her into a duplex apartment in Los Angeles. During the couple’s marriage, Ibrahim reportedly provided his wife with a $15,000 (£9k) monthly allowance but following the divorce, this shrunk to around $5,000 (£3k). With no other source of income, Christine described her and Sibba’s living conditions as “substandard to those which we had during marriage”. The socialite went on to marry, and later also divorce, LA singer Jason Sinay, the son of billionaire Fiji Water founder Lynda Resnick. 

No family hideout

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

The bin Laden name is a loaded one, but Ibrahim’s property is unlikely to have been frequented by the most notorious member of the family. By 1994 the bin Ladens had officially disowned Osama, who would later become the world’s most wanted man. The would-be plotter behind the 9/11 bombings also had his Saudi citizenship revoked.

A never-ending vacation 

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS Ibrahim bin Laden was vacationing away from his Bel Air home in 2001 when his half-brother spearheaded the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Following the horrific events and the way in which their impact ricocheted through the United States, and the rest of the world, Ibrahim never returned to his property. Coldwell Banker Homes, who were enlisted to sell the deteriorating mansion and its surrounding plot, highlights that the owner “has not been [there] for over 20 years”.

A property left to ruin

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS While it’s rumoured that film production companies have used the mansion in the last two decades, the faded pink property shows very little sign of life. There are clear indications of neglect in its exteriors, including this rusting fountain that sits bone dry and cracked on top of the long-dead grass.

Location, location, location 

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

The property on this sprawling estate may be in a state of disrepair and linked to a name more notorious than most, but the land it sits on is still worth tens of millions thanks to its enviable location in the celebrity-studded hills of Bel Air. Described as “ready for redoing” by its realtor, the crumbling property will likely be demolished by its new owner.

Neighbours to the stars 

Coldwell Banker Homes / MLS 

Among the estate’s neighbours is Hotel Bel-Air, a five-star accommodation with room prices starting at $945 (£679) per night, and golf-club-to-the-stars Bel Air Country Club, which reportedly counts Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood and Tom Cruise among its members. The joining fee is rumoured to be around $150,000 (£107.7k). Whoever does decide to snap up this prime piece of real estate will have quite the task on their hands to convert the abandoned bin Laden mansion estate into a home befitting its swanky, high-end neighbourhood.

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The UK’s most beautiful views, ranked

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[Originally written for and published by loveEXPLORING.com]

Perfect panoramas

Valery Egorov/Shutterstock 

The UK is home to some of the world’s most astounding sights, from man-made structures that have housed royalty and protected empires, to gorges and mountains that have dominated the landscape for millennia. But do the British public have a favourite? Here are 30 of the most beautiful views in the UK, ranked according to recent research by LNER (London North Eastern Railway). If you’re planning a visit don’t forget to check local travel restrictions and only head out when it’s safe to do so.

30. Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, England

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This coastal fortress has lorded it over the northeast county of Northumberland for more than 1,400 years. Towering 150 feet (46m) above the coastline, the imposing castle has a history of high-profile inhabitants, and can be spied from the puffin-populated Farne Islands in the North Sea and across miles of rolling Northumberland hills. Its nine acres are scattered with chapel ruins, soils rich with archaeological treasures, and batteries of canons first readied for battle during the Napoleonic Wars.

29. Eden Valley, Cumbria, England

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The River Eden curls its way between the Pennines to the east and the Lake District to the west, shaping Cumbria’s lush Eden Valley as it goes. Along the way, it wiggles past petite sandstone villages and historic castles, echoes of illustrious residents from centuries past. The Eden Valley is also one of the jewels of the Settle to Carlisle railway line, which carries passengers across the River Eden and through Cumbria’s scenic pastures.

28. Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, England

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Situated on the western tip of the Isle of Wight, Freshwater Bay is nestled between chalky cliffs and punctuated with rock pools and jagged ledges. Centuries of erosion have formed this beach, with its bluffs gradually crumbling into powdery pebbles and forming soft sand underfoot. Topping off the view is the English Channel and its turbulent waves, which stretch out from the little cove as far as the eye can see.

Now check out the UK’s most beautiful beaches from above

27. The Three Sisters, Glen Coe Valley, Scotland

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The Three Sisters are a trio of steep ridges that lie to the south of Glen Coe in the Scottish Highlands, making up part of the majestic but formidable Bidean nam Bian mountain complex. The tallest peaks in the county of Argyll and Bute, they were carved into Glen Coe’s rugged landscape by long-extinct glaciers and volcanoes, and avid explorers are drawn in by their challenging hikes and lofty summits. The Three Sisters loom over the Lost Valley, which offers a patchwork of trail paths and scramble routes surrounded by brooks and waterfalls.

26. Angel of the North, Gateshead, England

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In 1998, the Angel of the North was erected over the town of Gateshead in North East England, according to the design of British sculptor Antony Gormley. This remarkable engineering feat has a 175-foot (54m) wingspan – greater than that of a Boeing 757 aircraft – while its soaring height of 65 feet (20m) is equivalent to four stacked double-decker buses. That makes it the largest known angel sculpture in the world. A sturdy base formed of 500 tonnes of concrete tether this steel and copper structure to the ground, allowing it to withstand wind speeds of more than 100mph. 

25. Richmond Park, London, England

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Richmond Park is a bountiful utopia of ancient trees, rare flora and wildlife tucked away in buzzing London. Spanning 2,500 acres, the royal park has been home to free-roaming deer since 1637, with 630 of them currently grazing in the habitat. Its expansive acreage is also home to Isabella Plantation, a Victorian woodland renowned for its astonishing azaleas, which border the ponds and streams that break up the greenery.

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24. Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and Cumbria, England

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Slicing an equator through Northern England is Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Originally built circa AD 122, at the behest of Emperor Hadrian, these 73 miles (117km) of sturdy stone barricades were designed to guard the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, and they remain a robust reminder of the domain’s staggering strength and ingenuity today. Full-size reconstructions, museums and forts denoting the era’s incredible history can be found along the best-preserved stretches of the wall.

23. Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire, England

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Cobbled streets and alleyways meander down to the sand-dusted beach of Robin Hood’s Bay, a fishing village perched on Yorkshire’s Dinosaur Coast. Once a hub for sailors, tradespeople and smugglers, the village has a chequered history, and traces of its crooked past can be found in its secret passages and hidey holes (allegedly used to transport goods from one end of the bay to the other without the items seeing the light of day). Situated on this stunning Jurassic coastline, the bay is also home to an abundance of fossils, which date back to the prehistoric age.

22. Buttermere, Lake District, Cumbria, England

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Buttermere Lake mirrors the district’s hills in its glass-like surface, and makes a glistening centrepiece for the eponymous hamlet in which it’s located. The lush and fertile pastures proved ideal for dairy farming, earning Buttermere its name, while peaceful trails slice through the surrounding woodland. 

21. Peak District view from Stanage Edge, Derbyshire, England

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The Peak District is a mosaic of glorious views, but the sight from Stanage Edge may be the finest. This craggy gritstone ridge offers walkers and hardy rock climbers a 3.5 mile (5.6km) stretch from which to view an exquisite panorama of the desolate Dark Peak moorlands and Hope Valley. Disused grindstones and millstones pepper the landscape, pinpointing areas of once-prosperous industry that fell out of fashion in the mid-1800s.

20. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, England

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From a distance, Cornwall’s St Michael’s Mount could be an emerald mirage flickering in the brisk sea wind. The castle is reminiscent of a fantasy kingdom and, unsurprisingly, the fortress and its tiny tidal island are steeped in legend: there are tales of mermaids tempting sailors to their peril and the Archangel Michael granting miracles here. The island has been inhabited since the Neolithic era and its striking castle, subtropical garden and harbour village thrive within a unique microclimate.

19. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

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This jagged peak is the highest point in Edinburgh and it’s a breathtaking backdrop to Scotland’s capital. Thrust into shape millions of years ago by an ancient volcanic eruption, Arthur’s Seat now offers a tranquil picture of the city below to those willing to scale its arduous paths. The Seat’s namesake remains a mystery, but legend has it the hill is a dragon that fell asleep in the spot after devouring the city’s livestock. Story spinners still speculate about when the dragon might awake from its slumber…

18. Westminster Bridge, London, England

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The second and current incarnation of Westminster Bridge was built in 1862 and has a Gothic style in keeping with the Houses of Parliament, where it leads. It stretches 827 feet (252m) across seven spans, each marked by a trio of octagonal lanterns supported by green cast-iron columns: gold quatrefoil swirls into the letters “V” and “A” to commemorate Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, too. Located at the heart of the River Thames, Westminster Bridge offers views of the slow-turning white capsules of the London Eye while the red steel arches of Lambeth Bridge are visible upstream.

17. Durdle Door, Dorset, England

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Durdle Door was created around 10,000 years ago when powerful tides pierced through the Portland limestone, leaving this beautiful peek-a-boo archway in their wake. A natural cliff pathway trails down to the sandy beach, the edges of which are greeted by the lapping waves of the English Channel. This dazzling chunk of Dorset’s shoreline, known as the Jurassic Coast, was England’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site.

16. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

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Some 40,000 columns of black basalt rock protrude from the sea on Northern Ireland’s northerly coast to form the Giant’s Causeway. A flurry of myths and legends are attached to the natural formation, but it’s most likely the geological footprint of intense volcanic activity some 50 to 60 million years ago. Oozing molten lava would have burst through cracks in the ground and cooled rapidly to form a plateau of columns, while millennia of erosion have buffeted the rocks into the marvel they are today.

9 of the UK’s most spectacular Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

15. Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons, Wales

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The tallest peak in South Wales at 2,907 feet (886m), Pen y Fan rewards the hikers who reach its summit with a breathtaking panorama of the Severn Estuary and swathes of Wales’ finest countryside. On the clearest days, the Cambrian Mountains and Black Mountains loom as menacing shadows on the horizon. Fascinating man-made artefacts can also be spotted, as work tools hailing from the Bronze Age are scattered across Brecon Beacons National Park. 

14. Loch Lomond, Trossachs National Park, Scotland

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Loch Lomond is a glistening freshwater oasis stitched between the curves of Trossachs National Park’s most spectacular mountains. The loch’s sheltered location mean its surface is extra calm, disrupted only by ripples of sunlight. On the eastern shore lies Milarrochy Bay, a particularly stunning inlet of Britain’s largest lake.

13. York Minster, York, England

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Cloaked in Gothic grandeur, York Minster has dominated the skyline of this city in Northern England since its establishment in the 7th century. The centuries-old house of worship has marvels aplently, including medieval stained glass and handcrafted stone. 

The world’s most beautiful cathedrals you should visit once in your lifetime

12. Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England

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Cheddar Gorge cuts through the Mendip Hills in Somerset, retracing a path first carved by violent floodwaters that surged through the area after the last Ice Age. The largest gorge in England, the crevasse is an impressive three-miles (4.8km) long and around 400-feet (122m) deep. Rocks jut out over sheer drops and serve as a playground for the herds of feral goats that roam freely in the area.

11. Ben Nevis, Highland, Scotland. 

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The UK’s tallest mountain towers into the clouds at a majestic height of 4,413 feet (1,345m), a fierce protector of Fort William, the lakeside town that sits at its base. Smaller pools of water gather in crevices along the mountain’s hardy granite walkways, which refuse to be weathered by the rough highland breeze. Those who reach Ben Nevis’ cairn are rewarded with a scenic vista of mountains that stretches as far as Northern Ireland.

10. Stonehenge, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

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Millennia of hard labour and engineering prowess went into the construction of Stonehenge as it stands today. The central cluster of stones consists of larger sarsens, elevated to form two concentric formations, and remains of a smaller bluestone circle and inner oval. This sacred site, particularly cherished by the Druid community, is best viewed at sunrise or sunset, when a warm amber glow washes over the stones as it has every day for the past 5,000 years.

9. White Cliffs of Dover, Kent, England

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The immaculate cliffs of Dover dazzle with a white so bright that it’s visible from France on a clear day – that’s thanks to their soft chalk composition, built up from the skeletal remains of sea creatures and algae over millions of years. They appear all the more radiant against the sapphire sea that sparkles at their base, too. The sight has provided a warm welcome to sailors arriving on British shores for millennia.

8. Man O’War Bay, Dorset, England

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Tucked away on the east side of Durdle Door is Man O’War beach, where the raw cliff faces partially encircling the cove give way to fine pebbles and a generous coating of sand. Coiled waves gently break against sea-weathered rocks at the bay’s entrance, beyond which the blues of the English Channel and skies merge into an expanse of uninterrupted teal.

Find out where to see epic sunrises around Britain

7. Snowdonia, Wales

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Snowdonia National Park orbits around Mount Snowdon, which stands at a staggering 3,560 feet (1,085m), making it the largest peak in Wales. In its entirety, the park sprawls across 823 square miles (2,132sqkm), encompassing sweeping hectares of rugged grasslands, Celtic rainforests overflowing with flora and fauna, and sensational stretches of shoreline.

6. Ingleton, Yorkshire Dales, England

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Waterfalls cascading into rock-filled shallows and natural caves snuggled into limestone hills: that’s what characterises the Yorkshire town of Ingleton and its surrounding beauty spots. Two thirds of Yorkshire’s formidable Three Peaks Challenge takes place in this neck of the Dales, as relentless climbs and descents across bumpy terrain pose a challenge to even the most resilient hikers.

5. St Ives Bay, Cornwall, England

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Spotless seaside properties topped with apricot roofs flank the shoreline of this Cornish bay. A swell of blue sea surrounds the small crescent-shaped peninsula, and a three-mile (5km) length of golden sand draws a line between the two. Adjacent to the beach is Godrevy Island, which is marked by its eponymous lighthouse, whose lights have warded ships from harm for centuries.

These are the world’s most beautiful lighthouses

4. Tower of London, London, England

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A bloody history is encased in the walls of this stalwart citadel, which has served as a home to kings and convicts alike since its erection in the 1070s. Built as a display of Norman power and influence, the castle’s imposing brick exterior now protects a complex of buildings containing oodles of royal treasures, from the breathtaking crown jewels to the battle-worn armours of British monarchs past.

3. The London Eye, London, England

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Strung like pearls on a giant necklace, 32 capsules, each representing one of London’s boroughs, slowly rotate around the London Eye’s core, offering astonishing views of England’s capital as they go. At 443-feet (135m) tall, the Eye is one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels, and it has become an iconic feature of the London skyline since it was installed at the turn of the millennium. 

2. Lake Windermere, Lake District, England

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The largest lake in England, Windermere extends across 10.5 miles (17km) with a breadth of one mile (1.6km), and it plummets to 220 feet (67m) at its deepest points. It’s framed by some of the Lake District’s most breathtaking tracts, as well as the quaint village of Windermere and the mock-Gothic turrets of Wray Castle in Ambleside.

1. Loch Ness, Highland, Scotland

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Loch Ness is as beautiful as it is mysterious, and there are long-established whisperings of mythological creatures living in the lake’s depths. Just south of Inverness, this stunning spine of the Scottish Highlands is enclosed by unspoiled forests, plunging waterfalls and ancient sites, making it the most beautiful view in the UK.

Online virtual job interview tips from dress code to body language

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[Originally written for and published by loveMONEY.com]

Acing that virtual interview

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With many people still working from home, virtual online job interviews have become companies’ go-to for recruiting remotely. And they pose new challenges in terms of impressing potential employers: a solid handshake and a confident walk are now redundant in this new world, but there are plenty of tips and tricks for coming across well on a screen. We spoke to internationally-renowned body language expert India Ford – founder of talkbodylanguage – about how you can give yourself a competitive edge and the best chance at acing that virtual interview. Click or scroll through to read her tips.

Looking the part

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It takes an interviewer a mere seven seconds to decide whether or not they want to hire you, so dressing to impress is crucial in making the right impression. But how can your clothes project traits that an employer wants to see in a potential new hire if you’re not actually meeting face to face?

Tip: Dress as if for a face-to-face interview

Jacek Korzeniewski/Shutterstock Your virtual interviewer will likely only see your head and torso, which could tempt you into doing the interview in your pyjama bottoms. But that’s a big mistake. “To get yourself in the right frame of mind you need to make sure that you dress exactly as you would if you were going to a face-to-face interview,” says India. And that includes shoes. “It’s subconscious, but it’ll get you in the right state of mind.”

Tip: Avoid noisy accessories

Doucefleur/Shutterstock Looking the part often involves the added accessory or two, like a watch, or jewellery. This will help you get into the right frame of mind but be careful with what you choose. “Watch out for dangly jewellery that could clank around and interfere with the sound quality,” cautions India.

Energy levels

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One of the main challenges in doing an interview virtually is that energy levels will naturally be much lower, making it difficult to project the right kind of body language. There are no new surroundings or direct contact with different people to give you that adrenaline and testosterone boost. So how can you ramp up those energy levels?

Tip: Don’t slump over your notes

NDAB Creativity/Shutterstock Waiting to start an interview, you might be tempted to go over your notes one last time and revise your answers – this is fine, but don’t do it slumped at your desk. “When you’re hunched up, you’re boosting the stress hormone, cortisol, which is the last hormone you need during a job interview,” says India.

Tip: Power pose

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One trick for reducing stress levels pre-interview is striking the power pose. Stand with your head up, hands on hips, and feet hip-width apart, with closed eyes. Smile to yourself and reflect on a time you felt your most confident. “Get into those feelings, and stay in that pose and frame of mind for two minutes,” recommends India. “Within that time, the stress hormone cortisol will go down by over 20%, and testosterone, which is our confidence-boosting hormone, goes up by 25%. This pose is a very quick and powerful way to regulate these hormones that affect us all the time.”

Tip: Just get moving

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If the power pose isn’t for you, any activity that involves movement can have a similar impact on your hormones. Whether it’s jumping on the spot or dancing around the room, just get those energy levels up before you sit down to face the interviewer. “We want to project an energy that is open and engaging. In a face-to-face meeting you have so many opportunities to project that energy – an interviewer comes to meet you, they see how you walk and move. In a virtual interview you’re just a static person sitting at a desk. This is a great way to get yourself into that state of mind.”

Posture

LStockStudio/Shutterstock During a virtual interview a potential employer will only see you while you are sat down, so it’s key that you do it right. Your body language needs to reflect the traits that will draw them in, and that even extends to how you sit on your chair. So how should you hold yourself?

Tip: Sit at a desk

Jack Frog/Shutterstock Sometimes the simplest set-ups are the best, and sitting at a desk during your virtual interview will give you a good chance of success. “The lower half of our body can sometimes give us away. It is easier, and much more relaxing, to be sitting at a desk as opposed to just sitting on a chair,” says India. It also means that you’ll be close enough to the camera for the interviewer to see your face and eyes, where a lot of crucial body language will be taking place… 

Tip: Sit back

Mangostar/Shutterstock India advises sitting tall in your chair and making sure you sit right back, with your back against the chair. “Lots of nervous people sit on the edge of their chair, and you don’t want to look tentative.”

Tip: ‘Squeeze an orange’ between your shoulder blades 

fizkes/Shutterstock Good posture is paramount in projecting confidence and competency. The key is to pull your shoulders back and down, which India simplifies with a fruit-based exercise. “Imagine you’ve got an orange between your shoulder blades, and just gently squeeze that orange two or three times. You don’t need to stay in that position, but you need to find that sweet spot where you’re not slouching but you’re sitting tall.”

Tip: Keep your chin parallel to the floor

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Head positioning can also say a lot about you, and keeping your chin parallel to the ground will create a positive impression. “If your head is too far back, it looks like you’re looking down at people, making you look very arrogant. If you start pushing your head too far down you will look submissive, as though you’re lacking in confidence – this looks as if you’re hiding your neck, which is what we do when we feel vulnerable.” You might need to adjust the position of your screen or laptop for this one, but to show confidence and credibility make sure you keep that chin at a steady angle. 

Tip: Don’t sit like a T-rex

fizkes/Shutterstock Looking like a T-rex is unlikely to give off the right cues about you as a person, so make sure your arms aren’t clamped to your torso. “When we’re nervous or anxious, we keep our limbs close to the body – make sure there’s a V shape of space. If you can, sit on a chair that has arms. That’ll make you look relaxed, you’ll feel relaxed, and arms of the chair will automatically create that V shape.”

Facial expressions

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Our resting expressions, or “screensaver faces”, are rarely inviting and, particularly in anxiety-inducing situations, they can appear angry or bad-tempered. A first impression is made in just 1/10th of a second, and if that resting face is the first sight an interviewer sees, their initial thought won’t be that you’re the one for the job. So how do you get it right when it comes to your facial expressions?

Tip: Smile more

fizkes/Shutterstock The best way to look warm, engaging, and inviting is simple: smile. “A smile is one of our most powerful gestures,” India emphasises. “When we smile at someone, it lights up the neural frontal cortex, which is the same area of the brain as when we receive a gift.” 

Tip: Mirror their body language

fizkes/Shutterstock Smiling is also infectious. “We have mirror neurons,” India explains, “so when we smile at someone, they automatically smile back.” Reciprocating a smile is a great way to build rapport, and it also makes us feel better subconsciously. 

Eye contact

G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock Eye contact is a huge part of social interaction in the Western world, and it’s expected of us 60-70% of the time. Without it, it’s impossible to look confident, credible, or competent, which are key traits you want to be showing off to a potential employer. But how do you achieve it through a camera?

Tip: Look directly into the camera

DisobeyArt/Shutterstock Mastering the art of virtual eye contact isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and India breaks it down into two easy tricks: 1) look directly into the camera when you’re speaking – to the other person this will look as though you are looking straight into their eyes, and 2) look at the interviewer on your screen when they are talking – this will provide you with important non-verbal feedback to let you know how they are reacting to you. 

Tip: Don’t look at yourself

Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock It’s important to look the part for an interview, but don’t become preoccupied with looking at the image of yourself on-screen. “If you’ve got a tendency to do that, your eye contact is going to be all over the place,” India warns. If you can’t help yourself, move the thumbnail so that it is as close to the camera as possible, or get rid of it altogether. 

Using your hands

fizkes/Shutterstock 

Fidgeting can happen in any anxiety-inducing environment, and as the nerves creep in the body brings in “self-pacifying” behaviours such as touching your face or neck and wringing your hands to try and calm itself down. But it doesn’t come across well in an interview. “On screen it will be amplified and will destroy all credibility. It’ll also raise red flags in the other person’s mind as they’ll wonder why you’ve suddenly started fidgeting.” But there are ways to use your hands effectively in an interview…

Tip: Keep your hands in view

Flamingo Images/Shutterstock India advises keeping your hands in view. If your hands are out of sight it raises questions as to where they are, causing the subconscious brain to become suspicious. “It starts wondering what you’re trying to hide, especially in a virtual interview. It’s important to make sure that your hands are always visible on the screen.”

Tip: Gesture to emphasise points

fizkes/Shutterstock If you are prone to moving your hands around you can use that to your advantage, as it can ramp up your communication while making you look more confident and credible. “Gestures make you look as though you really know what you’re talking about and add conviction to your words,” says India. Hand movements should be kept around the waist area – anything above the shoulders will just look erratic.

Tip: Clasp your hands

fizkes/Shutterstock If you do feel like you need to hold your hands, gently clasp them together in front of you on the desk. “You can also use this as a default position in-between gestures,” recommends India. But make sure the hold isn’t too tight, as white knuckles won’t send positive signals to the interviewer. 

Tip: Keep both feet on the ground

Rawpixel.com/ShutterstockIt isn’t just your top half that might get the fidgets. While your lower body will likely be underneath a table or desk, moving your legs and feet can cause the rest of the body to shift around, which will be noticeable. India advises keeping both feet on the floor, as that will make you feel grounded and prevent the upper body from moving around on-screen.

Being engaged

fizkes/Shutterstock Building rapport through a screen can be really challenging, but showing that you’re interested in what’s being said is a great way to indicate to the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job. 

Tip: Nod your head

Hananeko_Studio/Shutterstock 

Nodding your head is a good rapport-building gesture, and two or three slow nods will say that you hear, understand, and agree with the speaker, which are all sentiments you want to get across during an interview. “If you’re speaking to somebody and they’re sitting there with their head vertical, not moving at all, you just assume that they’re not paying attention, so the head nod is a really good way to draw people in,” says India.

Tip: Lean in 

fizkes/Shutterstock Another tip for building rapport with your interviewer is leaning in slightly towards the screen. “This shows that you’re interested and engaged in what they’re saying.”. Obviously avoid going too close to the camera, as giving your potential future employer an extreme close-up of your face may give off a very different message…

Ending on a high

Peshkova/Shutterstock While you never get a second chance at a first impression, that final impression will be the last the interviewer sees of you, so make the most of your remaining opportunity to impress. “The final impression is 100% as important as the first, so the same rules apply,” India says. Here are a couple of extra tips to think about before you hurry to log off.

Tip: Don’t rush

Travelerpix/Shutterstock During the interview you will likely have considered all your answers, and hopefully delivered them in a calm and convincing way. Take your time in saying your goodbyes to make sure you continue to project all that good body language that you’ve already delivered throughout.

Tip: End on a light note

Branislav Nenin/Shutterstock 

With a virtual interview, we miss out on one of the most important rapport-building gestures: the handshake. But you can make light of the situation. “You could even do a bit of a joke,” suggests India. “You could put out your hand and say ‘nice to meet you’. If the interviewer is laughing, that’s a very good sign.” 

Tip: Remember names

New Africa/Shutterstock Using names is a great way to strengthen relationships, and so slipping your interviewer’s name in as you sign off is always a good idea. “Remember their name,” India says, “and use it.” The formula “[Interviewer’s name], it was great to meet you, thank you for your time” is an easy way to include their name as you say goodbye.

Tip: Smile until the end

fizkes/Shutterstock 

Smiling is integral throughout the interview, and you want to ensure it’s the final facial expression a potential employer sees, even if you’re having to fumble a little to find the “leave meeting” button. “There’s nothing worse than putting on a smile that’s a quick on-off expression, as that looks very inauthentic. Make sure you maintain that relaxed, open, engaging facial expression as the last impression, rather than your screensaver face,” recommends India.

Practice makes perfect

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All of these tips are excellent ways to improve your performance in a virtual interview, but they’re not necessarily habits you can learn overnight. Most people focus on what to say and will be busy creating all of the narrative and preparing for questions – this is all very well, but you also need to put some time aside to practice all of the non-verbal answers you’ll be giving off throughout the interview.

Tip: Film yourself

fizkes/Shutterstock 

Very few people enjoy watching themselves on camera, but it’s the best way to see what you’re doing right and how you can improve. “Most people are pretty horrified when they see themselves,” India admits, “but if it’s really important that you get this job, then make that effort and put the time in to see how you come across and how you can best work through the virtual medium.” Check the lighting, how you look on screen, and whether or not you’re ticking all the boxes when it comes to projecting good body language.

Tip: Get your friends involved

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

You’re only going to get one shot at an interview, so why not practice with friends before the real thing? “Do a virtual meeting with your friends. Practising is the only way you’re going to get used to it, and it’s worth doing as this format will likely be around for the foreseeable future,” says India. Even better: record your practices and watch those back too, either by capturing the screen or getting a friend to record you. This will also help you make sure your technology works and you’re in a quiet enough environment.

Tip: Smile at yourself

Dean Drobot/Shutterstock 

Acing that social smile is key for success both in your personal and professional life, so it really is worth making sure you get it right. “It doesn’t have to be a 70s gameshow host-type smile that’s all teeth, and under no circumstance should it be a stretched, fake, oblong smile. In front of the mirror, find that great smile that you can project when you need to connect and create that really good first impression,” suggests India.

Businesses fast-forwarding future plans due to COVID-19

Tip: Practise on strangers

Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock 

When it comes to good body language, you really can practise with anyone. For example, if you’re in a supermarket or a café, try and look people right in their eyes when you say “thank you”. India has a top tip for making this a regular habit: “When you first meet people, look for their eye colour. Just noticing it will force you to look straight into their eyes. You don’t need to remember it, but that instant connection is a great way to build rapport and promotes trust and credibility.” We may have to settle for looking into cameras for now, but getting into this habit will put you in good stead for face-to-face interactions. “These little things can help you get a competitive edge in the business and corporate world, but also in the personal social world.”

Expert tips for better video calls for business and pleasure

Final tip: Manage your state of mind

fizkes/Shutterstock 

When we are relaxed and happy our body language is naturally good as it just reflects how we are feeling – being able to create that state of calm and confidence in anxiety-inducing environments will naturally lead to better body language. The power pose is perfect for this, but simple breathing exercises can also help you to keep your cool. “If you feel anxiety levels going up, just doing a quick breathing exercise will help. Inhale for three to four seconds, hold for three seconds, and then exhale on four. That will help to relax the entire body.” 

India Ford is a UK-based corporate trainer, business consultant and executive coach, and the founder of talkbodylanguage. Her clientele includes global media corporations, top-ranking law firms, heads of state, and leaders of multiple Fortune 500 companies.

How Donald Trump makes and spends his money

Portfolio

[Originally written for and published by loveMONEY.com]

Donald Trump’s fortune now and then

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images 

Donald Trump failed in his second bid for the US presidency, and as America’s economy was a big part of the former president’s speech, many have wondered how Trump’s own personal finances are shaping up now that he has left the country’s highest office. In fact, it looks like the presidency might have been one of Trump’s worst business decisions yet, as his fortune has dropped from $3 billion (£2.1bn) when he started the job to $2.3 billion (£1.6bn) today according to Bloomberg. The COVID-19 pandemic and the riot at the Capitol have greatly impacted the former world leader’s brand and businesses, and crucially could impact his relationship with lenders just as $590 million (£422m) in loans will come due in the next four years, with half of those guaranteed by Trump himself. Click or scroll through to see how the billionaire former president of the United States makes, and spends, his money, and how things look now he’s left the White House. All dollar amounts in US dollars.

Money from his father

Sonia Moskowitz/Zuma Press/PA Images 

Born into wealth, Donald Trump is the son of the late real estate tycoon Fred Trump (pictured here with his late wife and Donald’s mother Mary Anne). The former president was reportedly able to kickstart his billion-dollar business empire with what he described as a “very small” $1 million (£412k) loan from his father in 1975. Investigations carried out by the New York Times later suggested that Trump Senior had actually lent his son at least $60.7 million – an amount worth around $140 million (£101.8m) in today’s money.

Family wealth

Jeffrey Asher/Contributor/Getty Images 

The New York Times investigations documented 295 different streams of revenue used by Fred Trump to pass his wealth onto his son, including officially making him his landlord, employing him as his property manager and signing over large chunks of real estate. It was concluded that, by 2018, Donald Trump had amassed the equivalent of at least $413 million (£300.4m) via his father. 

Real estate legacy

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images 

Fred Trump built his wealth through savvy real estate development, and his son followed in his footsteps. One of Donald Trump’s early major successes was acquiring the Commodore Hotel in New York, which he bought in partnership with the Hyatt Organization for an undisclosed amount in 1976. The hotel was $1.5 million (£735k) in debt before it was transformed into the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which went on to become one of the Big Apple’s most iconic places to stay. Trump had taken on a risky investment but it paid off, by 1996 business was booming and he sold his half of the hotel to Hyatt for $142 million (£93m). A crucial part of the project’s success was Donald Trump’s tax negotiation abilities, which would have repercussions later in his career…

Commercial real estate

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images 

The former president continues to profit from the swathes of property he owns across the world, including 125,000 square feet of commercial real estate near Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Between 2016 and 2021 Trump’s commercial real estate assets have dropped 26% in value, and are now worth $1.7 billion (£1.2bn) according to Bloomberg. Impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump may be concerned about the future of his commercial real estate interests as it makes up three-quarters of his fortune. Notably, he has $256.8 million (£183.8m) in debt on his commercial real estate. Trump is pictured in 1980 with a model of what has become one of Fifth Avenue’s most recognisable buildings and arguably the most famous his organisation has built: Trump Tower. The building’s biggest commercial tenant today, according to the New York Times, is luxury brand Gucci.

Residential real estate

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images 

Trump also boasts a bulging residential real estate portfolio, with more than 500 units across America, which had an estimated value of $235 million (£183m) at the beginning of 2020. Following the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, Trump’s residential real estate is now believed to be worth $148 million (£115m). Trump also leases residences he’s not occupying, which is quite the money-spinner. During 2017, the former president rented out his estate Chateau des Palmiers on the Caribbean island of St. Martin for an eye-watering rate of up to $20,000 (£16.2k) per night.

Golf courses, clubs and resorts

Davidoff Studios Photography/Contributor/Getty Images 

In 1999, Donald Trump acquired his first golf course, the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, and Trump Golf has since expanded to include 16 locations in the US, Scotland, Ireland and Dubai, with two sites in Indonesia and another Dubai course coming soon. Between 2017 and 2019 alone, the then-president raked in an impressive $753 million (£569m) in revenue from his golf resorts and his exclusive Florida members’ club Mar-a-Lago, according to Forbes. As with the rest of his real estate, the value of Trump’s golf courses has dropped during the pandemic, giving them a current value of $271.1 million (£211m). Since 2015, income from Trump’s golf clubs has fallen by 19%, while income from his hotels and resort has dropped by a huge 42%, underlining the fact Trump’s time in office hasn’t exactly boosted his business interests. Trump currently has $18 million (£12.9m) in debts from his golf interests, and $330 million (£236m) from his resorts and hotels.

The Trump brand

While Donald Trump’s surname may have become synonymous with property and golf in his pre-presidency days, the Trump Organization had already begun to licence the name to other companies in the 1980s. This propelled it, and him, to become a globally-recognised brand long before he took to the political podium. 

The Trump brand

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A whole host of products and companies came under the Trump umbrella, including agency Trump Models, founded in 1999, which provided a $2 million (£1.4m) annual income and had the likes of Paris Hilton and Trump’s wife Melania on its books before it closed in 2017. The Trump seal of approval wasn’t an instant ticket to success, however, and plenty of ideas flopped, including Trump magazine, Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks. The value of the Trump brand has been hotly disputed over the years. After the Capitol riot, Trump Plaza in Florida’s West Palm Beach voted to drop Trump’s name, and New York City is attempting to stop his contracts for ice rinks, a carousel and a golf course. Donald Trump claimed that his name was worth $3 billion (£1.8bn) in 2011, while Forbes reported that a more modest $200 million (£123m) was a better estimate.

Battling bankruptcy

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Not all of Donald Trump’s bigger business ventures have gone well either, and parts of his empire have had to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on six separate occasions between 1991 and 2009 prior to his stint as president. The businesses that needed reorganisation include both of the billionaire’s Atlantic City casinos and Trump’s Plaza Hotel in New York City. But Trump claims that he profited immensely even from some of his less successful projects, saying “the money [he] took out of [Atlantic City] was incredible” in a 2016 interview with the New York Times.

More on Donald Trump’s best and worst business decisions

TV and movie appearances

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Having built up his reputation as a formidable businessman, Donald Trump became the executive producer and star of NBC show The Apprentice, which debuted in 2004. Excellent ratings didn’t just make Trump a household name, it also paid well. The host reportedly made $427 million (£276m) in earnings, endorsements and licensing from the show’s 14 seasons. When merchandise and spoofs started to pop up using Trump’s infamous phrase “You’re fired!”, he attempted to reap royalties from its popularity by trademarking the expression, but was unsuccessful.

More on this and other unusual trademark battles

TV and movie appearances

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The Apprentice wasn’t Donald Trump’s first time in front of the cameras, as he had also made a brief appearance on the big screen back in 1992 in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, where he encounters main character Kevin in the Plaza Hotel. The hotel was owned by Trump at the time, and while an undisclosed fee had already been arranged for filming in its lobby, there was an additional caveat. According to Insider, the billionaire said at the time: “The only way you can use the Plaza is if I’m in the movie.” So Trump not only profited financially from the film but also got a cameo role. However, one entertainment income he has lost since his presidency is his Screen Actors Guild pension, as after the Capitol riot Trump quit before the Guild severed his membership. Before this, SAG had paid out $80,000 (£57k) in pension to Trump in 2020.

Books that used to be best-selling

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Over the course of his career, Donald Trump has penned a total of 19 books, ranging from a manual of golf advice and guides for building a fortune to a crime novel about Trump Tower. One of the most popular of Trump’s works is his memoir The Art of a Deal, which was written in 1987 and benefitted from a resurgence in sales when its author ran for president. However, once Trump was in office that dramatically changed…

Books that used to be best-selling

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Income from Trump’s books dropped to at least $119,341 (£85.4k) in 2020 from more than $888,000 (£635k) in 2015 according to Bloomberg. That said, his most lucrative book deal could be his next. Most presidents write a post-White House memoir, with Barack Obama reportedly receiving $65 million (£46.5m) to write his. While nothing has been announced yet, the former president was rumoured to have been offered dozens of new book and TV deals since leaving the White House, which could be worth up to $100 million (£71.8m) according to the New York Post

US presidency

Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images 

Since 2001, every president of the United States has received an annual salary of $400,000 (£287k) plus expenses, but Donald Trump’s period in office is reported to have been more lucrative than most, as he juggled his presidential and business interests throughout his term. He had held a total of 88 political events at Trump properties as of September 2020, along with 13 foreign government events. 

US presidency

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It wasn’t just money from guests’ overnight stays that was channelled into the Trump Organization, but also from the heavy security detail required whenever Trump and other officials were on the move. Documents showed that the Secret Service spent more than $250,000 (£203k) staying at various Trump locations in a five-month period in 2017 in order to accompany the president. The Washington Post then revealed that the Secret Service paid $650 (£505) per room per night for stays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, while $17,000 (£13.2k) was spent renting a cottage at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey. It’s also estimated that $2.3 million (£1.8m) from Trump’s presidential campaign fed into his private businesses, including the $1.6 million (£1.2m) spent on renting space at Trump Tower in the run-up to the 2020 election. 

Tax breaks

Mark Wilson/Staff/Getty Images 

Donald Trump’s tax returns were another contentious finance issue in his second bid for the presidency, as it came to light that the then-president had only paid $750 (£537) in federal income tax in both 2016 and 2017. Further examination showed that he paid no tax at all in 11 of the 18 years’ worth of records obtained by the New York Times. Clever usage of taxes has been at the heart of some of Trump’s best business deals, however – when he first bought the heavily-indebted Commodore Hotel, the property mogul negotiated a 40-year tax break that saved the project more than $360 million (£178m) between its purchase in the 1970s and 2020.

Post-presidential life still looks perky

MANDEL NGAN/Contributor/Getty Images 

Having avoided two possible impeachments in the last four years, Donald Trump is also still entitled to all of the perks of post-presidency life, which include a $199,000 (£143k) annual pension, as well as travel expense allowances, staff and personal security for life. His current net worth has dropped since he took the top job, and Trump’s wealth is estimated at $2.3 billion (£1.6bn) by Bloomberg, although Forbesputs his wealth slightly higher at $2.5 billion (£1.8bn). However, both figures are far lower than Trump himself has said he is worth in the past, even allowing for the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on his business interests. But how will he be spending his annual post-presidency income and the rest of his fortune? 

Mar-a-lago is still paying off

Joe Raedle/Staff/Getty Images 

While Donald Trump has made billions through real estate investments, it’s where he spends a lot of his money too. The property tycoon may have moved out of America’s most famous house, but he has plenty of other million-dollar residences to choose from, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, which Trump allegedly bought in 1985 for $10 million (£9.4m). The value of the 58-bedroom property has since skyrocketed to $170 million (£122.1m), according to Business Insider. In fact, it is one business interest that hasn’t been too greatly impacted by Trump’s presidency, bringing in $22.9 million (£16.4m) in 2020, up from $22.3 million (£15.9m) in 2015.

Read more about Mar-A-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach hideaway, on our sister site lovePROPERTY.com

Other commercial real estate

nyker/Shutterstock Perhaps the most iconic of Trump’s properties is the sky-scraping Trump Tower on Wall Street in New York. While the entire building is multi-use, floors 66 to 68 consist of Trump’s personal triplex penthouse apartment. The apartment alone is worth an estimated $64 million (£49.7m).

Trump’s private properties

Courtesy The Trump Organization 

Other properties belonging to Donald Trump include Seven Springs in Bedford, New York (pictured), which was reportedly bought for $7.5 million (£4.9m) in 1996 and is now thought to be worth $24 million (£18.7m), and his home on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, reportedly worth $13 million (£10.1m). Seven Springs was set to become a golf course but remains a private property following opposition from local residents. Trump is also believed to own two homes in Sterling, Virginia with a combined value of $1.5 million (£1.2m), along with two other properties in Palm Beach in addition to Mar-a-Lago.

Decadent décor 

Courtesy The Mar-a-Lago Club 

And it isn’t just the properties themselves that come with a hefty price tag. Donald Trump is known for his decadent taste in décor, with the interiors of his Fifth Avenue penthouse reportedly inspired by the Palace of Versailles. The apartment is adorned with gold candelabras, classical paintings and designer furniture. Cash was most recently splashed on renovations at Mar-a-Lago ahead of the former president’s departure from the White House. The alterations won’t have come cheap, as they were rumoured to have featured large quantities of dark wood and white marble.

Gold

Sam Thomas/Zuma Press/PA Images 

Donald Trump’s interest in gold isn’t purely aesthetic – it’s also been reported that he owns thousands of dollars’ worth of the precious metal in a financial capacity. In 2015, the then-Republican candidate nominee submitted financial statements to the Federal Election Commission, which listed gold assets worth between $100,001 and $200,000 (£65k-£130k). Trump also accepted gold bullion in place of a lease deposit from a tenant of his 40 Wall Street building in a highly-publicised event in 2011.

Luxury aircraft

Robert Alexander/Contributor/Getty Images It’s safe to say that the 45th president of the United States has a penchant for luxury, and that also applies to how he travels. Trump’s air fleet includes a Boeing 757 – nicknamed Trump Force One – with fuel costs that rocket into the thousands of dollars per hour of flying. The airliner was allegedly bought in 2010 for $100 million (£67m) to replace Trump’s older plane – an $8 million (£7.5m) Boeing 727 bought in the 1980s.

Luxury aircraft

Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images 

Also among the fleet is a 1997 Cessna Citation X jet, which would have been worth around $15.3 million (£9.4m) new, along with three Sikorsky helicopters, which will typically set a buyer back between $5 million and $7 million (£3.9m-£5.4m). In true Trump style, the aircraft are lavishly decked out. Trump Force One boasts gold-plated seat belts and a bathroom with golden sinks, while a refurbishment of one helicopter in the early 2010s saw the interiors finessed with 24-carat gold-plated hardware at a cost of $750,000 (£461k). That said, Bloomberg estimates Trump’s collection of aircraft has fallen in value by 59% since 2016, and is now worth $31 million (£22m).

High-end cars

Uwe Anspach/DPA/PA Images 

Trump also has a pretty impressive garage, featuring various top-of-the-line cars including a vintage Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, a Rolls-Royce Phantom, a Ferrari, a Maybach, and a Mercedes-Benz 3600, according to Business Insider. The billionaire has always had a taste for flash cars – pictured is the 1987 Mercedes Cabrio bought by Trump and his first wife Ivana in the late 1980s.

See more billionaire planes, trains and automobiles

Political campaigning

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While most of the funds for a presidential campaign come from candidate committees and outside groups, such as super political action committees (PACs), some candidates choose to throw their own money into the mix too. Donald Trump injected $66 million (£47m) of his fortune into his $322 million (£230m) bid for the presidency in 2016, although $11 million (£7.9m) of that amount went back into Trump-related interests, such as Trump Organization-owned hotels and his private jet. In 2020 Trump chose not to donate any of his own money to his re-election efforts, making him the first billionaire candidate not to do so. 

Giving back

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In 2016 Donald Trump promised he would donate all of his salary if elected as president, and he stuck to his word. Each quarter a different federal agency received a $100,000 (£77.7k) cheque on his behalf. After tax deductions Trump’s take-home salary would have been closer to $78,000 (£60.6k), so it’s likely the then-president dipped into his own finances to donate a round $100,000 every three months, or $1.6 million (£1.2m) over the four-year term. Trump also donated a total of $130 million (£101m) to charity between 2005 and 2020 according to his tax returns, although $119.3 million (£92.7m) of that was in conservation easements, which involve donating land development rights to a conservation charity while retaining ownership of the land and gaining considerable tax benefits in the process. 

Golf

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If Donald Trump wasn’t in the White House during his term in office, you could almost certainly find him on a golf course. He made an estimated 298 golf outings during his presidency, at an alleged cost of around $145 million (£113m) to the American taxpayer. The expenses covered travel, overnight stays and the extensive security detail he required as head of state. Now that he has left the White House, Trump will be picking up most of those costs himself, although former presidents are afforded life-long security protection as part of their retirement package.

Personal styling

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As a man who is always in the spotlight, appearance is incredibly important to Donald Trump. The former president has long had an affinity for Brioni menswear, and while it was supplied free of charge during his run on The Apprentice, Trump started to pay for his suits during the 2016 presidential campaign. Each suit sets him back between $5,250 and $6,900 (£4.1k-£5.4k). The former president’s tax returns also revealed that $70,000 (£54k) had been spent on styling his hair while he was on the hit TV show, all of which had been claimed back as expenses. It appears that being camera-ready is no cheap pursuit if you’re Donald Trump.

Lawsuits

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From suave suits to lawsuits. Donald Trump has had a fair few run-ins with the law during his lengthy career, and had been involved in a total of 3,500 legal actions across federal and state courts before he first ran for office in 2016, according to USA Today. The best-known and priciest of Trump’s legal mishaps was the Trump University litigation. The businessman was slapped with a $25 million (£17.9m) settlement fee in 2016 after students had paid $35,000 (£27k) for Trump’s ‘get rich quick’ classes, which failed to deliver and were described as “fraudulent” by an attorney general. Having now lost the protections afforded by the White House, Donald Trump could have many more costly legal battles in his future.

Family fortune

Pool/Pool/Getty Images 

While Donald Trump infamously told the Fox & Friends talk show that his birthday gift for wife Melania in 2018 was “a very nice card” as he’s too “busy to be running out looking for presents”, the rest of the former president’s family doesn’t appear to be too hard-up when it comes to benefitting from Trump’s wealth. 

Family fortune

Mark Wilson/Staff/Getty Images Donald and Melania Trump’s only son together, 14-year-old Barron, attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Maryland during his father’s presidency, at a cost of $40,000 (£31.1k) a year. In January Melania was seen scoping out new schools in Florida ready for the family’s departure from the White House, including the Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, which costs a slightly cheaper $35,150 (£27.3k) per year. 

Family fortune

John Lamparski/Contributor/Getty Images 

The teenager (pictured with Melania and half-sister Ivanka in 2009) is very accustomed to a life of luxury and, when he was just seven years old, Melania told ABC News that she lathered him in her now-defunct brand of caviar moisturiser each night before bed. Barron also enjoys his own floor of the triplex Trump Tower penthouse when the family is living in New York and has received a plethora of gifts thanks to his father’s celebrity, including a chandelier from Ellen DeGeneres and a horse from the former President of Mongolia.

Family fortune

Sipa USA/SIPA USA/PA Images 

Donald Trump’s grown-up children have also profited from his empire, with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump (pictured left and second from left respectively) both working as Executive Vice Presidents at the Trump Organization, through which they’ve amassed fortunes of around $25 million (£19.4m) apiece. Sharing his father’s name could be a blessing or a curse for Donald Trump Jr, but it has highlighted something that his father doesn’t splash the cash on, and that’s gifts. Donald Jr. often received second-hand monogrammed presents that had been given to the former president but then passed onto him given that they share the same initials, according to an interview with Extra TV.

Family fortune

MANDEL NGAN/Contributor/Getty Images 

Ivanka Trump (pictured right) is the richest of the Trump siblings, having built up a fashion empire alongside her dealings at the family business, giving her a net worth of around $375 million (£291m). She also seems to have inherited her father’s affinity for expensive grooming services, as a sum of $95,464 (£74.2k) was among the expenses in the 2020 reveal of Donald Trump’s finances. Tiffany (pictured left) is the only grown-up Trump child who isn’t involved in the family business – instead she attended Georgetown Law school until last year, at a cost of around $69,000 (£49k) per academic year.

Could catching coronavirus be the President’s trump card?

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[Originally written for and published by Empoword Journalism]

03/10/2020

The irony of Donald Trump catching coronavirus is lost on few. From his blatant denial that America is handling the pandemic badly, to his mocking of Joe Biden’s mask-wearing habits fewer than 48 hours before testing positive for the virus himself, some critics are saying this was inevitable or indeed implying that it was deserved. But is this really going to harm Trump’s campaign? Maybe, maybe not.

Could the virus be the President’s downfall?

Trump supporters have mimicked the President’s blase attitude towards coronavirus through anti-mask protests and a lack of social distancing at Republican rallies. But how would they react if their leader were to become seriously ill, or worse? Many are happy to take the President’s word when he rejects any bad press as “fake news”, but even Trump would struggle to downplay the severity of Covid-19 if he were to suffer the same tragic fate as more than 208,000 Americans after becoming infected. That would be one fact-check that couldn’t be disputed. Also insisting that “Sleepy” Joe Biden is a man not healthy enough for the job no longer sticks if you yourself are sat in a hospital bed.

With swing states like Florida still to play for, it is key that both candidates put on their best display in this last month before Election Day. But Trump has already put a halt to his campaign schedule, and it’s very possible that without his energy-packed, sometimes described as cult-esque, rallies, undecided voters may be swayed by the Democrats.

Or a winning card for the Republicans?

The Republicans could also spin this plot twist in their favour. If, like 80% of cases, President Trump continues to only suffer with mild symptoms, then his personal circumstances will fit very snugly into his long-held narrative that coronavirus, for the most part, is “totally harmless” and that the US is “rounding the final turn”, despite hard scientific evidence countering both of these statements. 

There is also the impact that the President’s illness has on media coverage in the run-up to 3 November – while the information is fresh it has saturated the news, and its continuing to do so would eclipse the typical election preamble, causing further disruption to what is already the most atypical of campaign seasons. Following the chaotic first debate, which was described by commentators as “a dumpster fire”, “a shitshow”, and “the worst debate in presidential history”, it’s possible that either party could profit from the distraction.

There are also scenarios to consider if Trump, who does have a number of risk factors, were to really suffer with coronavirus – would the incumbent benefit from a surge of sympathy as was witnessed in the UK when Boris Johnson fell ill back in April? Or again following in Johnson’s footsteps, could we see the President return somewhat humbled by his close shave with Covid-19? Both could impact the way that Americans vote in November.

Nobody can call it

Following suit in what has been a year of certain uncertainty, there is really no way of knowing how the US Election will shape up in a month’s time. It would, however, be foolish to assume that President Trump having caught coronavirus means an easy victory for the Democrats – the final four weeks of this long-haul game will only continue to hot up, and the incumbent is definitely still in play.

Hannah Ward-Glenton

Featured image courtesy Unsplash.

From Strictly Come Dancing to Staying Strictly Two Metres Apart: how the pandemic has hit the dancing world

Portfolio

[Originally written for and published by Empoword Journalism]

24/05/2020

The nature of certain hobbies has allowed for them to prosper during the pandemic, with the sales of the likes of jigsaws, craft equipment, and flour having skyrocketed. Partner dancing however, is quite a different story.

The Untouchables (2020): Directed by Dominic Cummings

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[Originally written for and published for Empoword Journalism]

24/05/2020 

Recent allegations made against Dominic Cummings and the resulting surge of government support for his actions have shrouded the Prime Minister’s chief advisor in a cloak of invulnerability. While many have criticised Cummings’ behaviour, the response has raised questions that go beyond the chief aide himself: are our (mostly) elected representatives becoming a group of untouchables?

Industries that will boom after coronavirus

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[Originally written for and published by loveMONEY.com]

Chekyravaa/Shutterstock

Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill, and as a result many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. However, some industries, such as those focusing on home entertainment or dealing in essentials such as groceries, have actually seen profits increase, and are likely to continue to do so post-pandemic. While other industries that may be struggling now will see a boom once the COVID-19 crisis is over. These are the industries that are are going to boom, or will continue to boom, in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Angelique Terrelonge: Fashion, feathers, and their ability to empower women

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[Originally written for and published by The Clothing Lounge]

Motivated by her want to empower women through fashion, Angelique Terrelonge’s eye-catching pieces embody the luxury of fur without the bad conscience. How? With feathers.

Sitting down to chat with Angelique I was intrigued to hear more about feathers as a replacement to fur and came away inspired by a woman determined to use her talents to improve the lives of others.

Ethical investing: the myths debunked

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[Originally written for and published by loveMONEY.com]

19 November 2019

We debunk four myths about ethical investing to see how it can make you richer whilst you invest in causes that you support.

Ethical investing has been something of a financial hot topic over the past couple of years.

Whilst more people are paying attention to how ethically their money is being invested, there is also a lot of false information doing the rounds regarding where it’s being invested and the actual impact that it’ll have.

To help cut through the noise about this topic, we’ve debunked four of the most common misconceptions about ethical investing.