Donald Trump likes to boast he's a great businessman. But one part of his reputation as a wheeler and dealer is not so grand: He can be stingy when it comes to paying his bills. Of course, there are his bankruptcies, and he has bragged about forcing bankers to take haircuts on the money he owes them. USA Today this week reported that it "found hundreds of people—carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers—who say he didn't pay them for their work." And some years ago, an 82-year-old Latvian immigrant named Nicolas Jacobsen learned the hard way about Trump's penchant to squeeze folks when it's time to settle up.
The saga began in 2004, when Trump was sprucing up his private Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, ahead of his January 22, 2005, wedding to his third wife-to-be, Melania. His upgrades included the purchase of three crystal chandeliers from Jacobsen's West Palm Beach business, Classic Chandeliers, which specialized in expensive replicas of chandeliers that hung in Versailles or Napoleon Bonaparte's palace.
The price tag for the chandeliers was more than $68,000, but Jacobsen offered to sell them to Trump for $34,000. Jacobsen claimed Trump did not want to pay the sales taxes on the sale but eventually relented; Trump ultimately paid nearly $17,000 as a deposit. Jacobsen installed the chandeliers in the entryway and two bathrooms in the resort's new 20,000-square-foot ballroom, which Trump had built in advance of his star-studded wedding, where many of the wedding vendors reportedly provided their services gratis, hoping for a boost from the extra publicity. (The New York Times even reported that Trump got Melania's 13-carat diamond ring for half-price.)