This is a love story?

December 23, 1993|By Sydney H. Schanberg

THE TASTEFUL Trump-Maples nuptial ceremony took place Monday night. The low-key hymeneal rites were attended by all of Donald's and Marla's closest friends, with the exception of Mike Tyson, the pugilist, who was detained.

Thousands of parvenus had clamored unsuccessfully for invitations to the wedding some have described as a living symbol of our age -- the joining of new money with no money.

For myself, I offer here a list of memorable moments in the lives of Donald and Marla. Let it be a kind of keepsake scrapbook for those who may wish to recall the fullness of their histories.

1980 -- Donald is demolishing the Bonwit building on Fifth Avenue to make way for Trump Tower. He promises to save two 15-foot Art Deco friezes on the front of the building and donate them to the Metropolitan Museum. But when it becomes clear that preserving the sculptures will be costly, Donald has them destroyed. "My biggest concern was the safety of the people on the street below," Donald explains. "If one of those stones had slipped, people could have been killed."

1982 -- Donald sues the city for tens of millions of dollars in tax cuts on the 68-story Trump Tower under a law whose purpose was to stimulate the building of low- and middle-income housing. The tower's apartments are superexpensive, up to $10 million for a penthouse triplex, but the courts say the law does not rule out luxury apartments. Donald wins.

1983 -- Donald displays his inventiveness as a landlord by devising new methods of harassing tenants. At 100 Central Park South, a rather nice 15-story building he bought in 1981, he wants the structure vacated so he can raze it and put up a skyscraper. But traditional tactics -- "drastic decreases in essential services . . . persistent delay in repairing defective conditions with life-threatening potential" (this language from a city lawsuit) -- had not succeeded in scaring many of the residents out. So . . .

Donald, protesting his good faith, makes a new suggestion to the city: He proposes to house homeless people, temporarily of course, in the 14 apartments already emptied. City officials see it for what it is, a scare tactic to drive out the rest of the tenants -- and they reject it.

1984 -- Donald offers himself, in an interview with the Washington Post, as the nation's nuclear arms negotiator with the Soviet Union. Describing himself as a master deal-maker, he says all he would have to do is get "updated" on the subject. "It would take an hour and a half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles," he says. "I think I know most of it anyway."

1986 -- 100 Central Park South again. The tenants have won their case. The building cannot be demolished and they are staying. Donald is upset. He sues their law firm, charging it with an "illicit scheme of commercial blackmail." A federal judge throws the suit out with some blunt language. Donald, in his court papers, says he "has had a critically important and positive impact on New York City over the past 10 years . . . a major factor in New York City's renaissance."

1987 -- Donald calls Mayor Ed Koch a "moron." Mayor Koch

replies: "Piggy, Piggy, Piggy."

1989 -- Donald's wife, Ivana, undergoes a plastic surgery makeover, including bosom enhancements. Ivana then tells old friends that Donald followed her to the same surgeon, to have flab on his chin and waist removed by liposuction. He also reportedly goes for hair transplants and scalp reduction to disguise his creeping baldness.

1990 -- This is a big year. Both his financial empire and his marriage are crumbling and the Other Woman is making headlines, too. Marla is quoted in the New York Post on Donald's amatory prowess. "Best Sex I've Ever Had" reads the banner headline on Feb. 16.

Donald is overextended in every way. His Atlantic City casinos are defaulting on bond interest, and the creditors are closing in. When a securities analyst issues a report saying that the Trump casinos are funded on shifting sands, Donald leans on the man's firm and gets him fired. The analyst, Marvin Roffman, files an arbitration complaint against his company and is awarded $750,000.

Before year's end, the divorce from Ivana is final and Donald's business house of cards is essentially in the control of the creditors, who nonetheless grant him a healthy allowance.

PTC 1991 -- Donald alternates between showing Marla off in public and breaking up with her.

During one of their reconciliations, he displays her at a heavyweight prizefight at his Taj Mahal casino. The crowd chants, "Mar-la! Mar-la!" Donald beams. They are accompanied by a writer doing a profile on Trump for Esquire. Donald tells the writer: "You know, it really doesn't matter what they write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."

Their breakups are equally tasteful, none more so than the one in June, 1991, which Marla hears about from a People magazine reporter. Donald, with a group of people in his office, had told the reporter in a phone conversation that he was splitting from Marla and that the diamond ring he had given her "was never an engagement ring."

Now, several breakups and reunions later, all that is over. Marla has given birth to a baby girl, and the nuptials have followed. Just as you'd expect.

What went before is merely an album of memories. Chalk them up to the excesses of youth.

Sydney H. Schanberg is a columnist for Newsday.

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