Who is Tom Barrack?

Barrack, a real estate investor, has been close to the president for years.

July 29, 2019, 5:08 PM

On the night Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president, he was introduced by his good friend Tom Barrack. A billionaire real estate investor in his own right, Barrack has been close to Trump since the 1980s.

Barrack served as President Trump's inaugural celebration chairman, making headlines for the blockbuster amount of money he raised and spent for Trump's swearing in festivities. The investor is back in the spotlight this week amid reports that federal prosecutors are looking into foreign contributions to Trump's campaign and inaugural festivities.

Who is the billionaire investor and close confidante to the president? Here's a few things you should know.

How did Barrack make his millions?

The simple answer: Real estate.

Barrack founded his company, Colony Capital, in the early 90s and began buying up poorly performing real estate loans. Before long, the company’s portfolio would expand to include casinos, vineyards, hotels, resorts and a French soccer team. Barrack even owns a stake in Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

Barrack also invested heavily in foreign assets. An established real estate investor, Barrack now runs a fund with hundreds of millions in real estate and private equity holdings in the Middle East.

PHOTO: Tom Barrack, chairman of Colony NorthStar Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., May 1, 2018.
Tom Barrack, chairman of Colony NorthStar Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., May 1, 2018.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

How much is Barrack worth?

In 2011, Barrack was No. 375 on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans with an estimated net worth of $2.3 billion. He fell from the list of billionaires in 2014 and his current net worth is unclear.

How much money has Barrack given to Trump's campaign?

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Barrack gave $415,000 to Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee that supports Trump, between May 17 and May 25 of 2016.

But this number pales in comparison to the millions Barrack claims to have raised on Trump's behalf. Barrack threw his financial backing to Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC that supported the president’s 2016 campaign. In an interview with CNN in 2016, Barrack claimed to have raised $32 million for the super PAC.

How did Barrack befriend Donald Trump?

Trump and Barrack have been friends since the 1980s, when both men were prominent figures in the New York real estate market. The first business transaction between the two appears to date back to 1985, when Barrack sold Trump a stake in a New York Department store. Later, Barrack would sell Trump the entire Plaza Hotel.

Since then, the two formed a business relationship that continued for decades. Barrack has in the past helped to support Trump's real estate empire. In 2010, Barrack bought up $70 million in debt owned by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on a property in New York.

What was Barrack's role on the Trump campaign?

Before taking any formal role within the campaign, Barrack was one of Trump's largest fundraisers and a visible part of the campaign effort. Barrack raised millions of dollars for Trump's election effort and gave a speech at the Republican National Committee the night that Trump accepted the party's nomination.

Barrack later served as the chairman of Trump's inaugural committee. With Barrack at the helm, Trump's inaugural raised more money than any presidential inauguration in United States history, bringing in $107 million - more than double what President Barack Obama raised for his first swearing-in festivities.

Barrack is also responsible for introducing Trump to his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Manafort and Barrack's relationship spans decades; the two met in Beirut, Lebanon, in the 1970s. Manafort, who left the campaign in August of 2016, is now serving a 7-and-a-half-year sentence on a variety of federal crimes related to his foreign lobbying work.

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