Meet the obscure German magnates who actually own Trump s most valuable building President-elect pays Deutschland-based aristocrats and titans of industry $1.6M a year in rent for 40 Wall Street
From left: Walter Hinneberg, Donald Trump, 40 Wall Street and Otto von Bismarck (Credit: Getty Images)
The skyscraper at 40 Wall Street occupies a special place in Donald Trump’s tale of business success. It is, in all likelihood, the most valuable single real estate asset he controls, worth hundreds of millions. And he never gets tired of saying that he bought it for a mere $1 million in 1995. “On occasion, I am asked what my favorite deals have been,” he wrote in his book Never Give Up. “I have a lot to choose from, but there is something about the acquisition of 40 Wall Street that will always stand apart.”
What’s often left unsaid is that Trump doesn’t actually own the building. He merely leased it for a term of up to 200 years. The building’s actual owners are a group of obscure, wealthy Germans.
That suddenly matters a great deal. Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States on Jan. 20. The commander-in-chief owing regular lease payments to a bunch of foreign businessmen might not be concerning if it weren’t for the fact that no one seems to know exactly who they are.
Some articles on the property have mentioned in passing that the Hinneberg family owns the land under 40 Wall Street. Others mention the name Joachim Ferdinand von Grumme-Douglas. But there has been no serious effort to shed some light on the owners and the source of their wealth.
The ownership web of 40 Wall
On December 7, 1982, five Germans bought the land under the tower from its long-term owner, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The buyers: Stephanie von Bismarck, Joachim Ferdinand von Grumme-Douglas and siblings Anita, Christian, and Walter Hinneberg (more on these people below).
Anita and Walter Hinneberg each owned 25 percent of the property and Christian Hinneberg owned 30 percent. Bismarck and Grumme-Douglas each owned 10 percent.
In 1992, the three Hinneberg siblings transferred their combined 80 percent interest to an entity called 40 Wall Limited Partnership. In December 2014, that entity in turn transferred its interest in the property to another entity, 40 Wall Street Holdings Corp. The beneficial owners of that latest entity aren’t public, but Christian Hinneberg signed the deed as the buyer on behalf of 40 Wall Street Holdings Corp.
Meanwhile, in 1992, Bismarck and Grumme-Douglas transferred their combined 20 percent interest to an entity called Scandic Wall Limited Partnership. In 2004, that entity in turn transferred it to another entity, called New Scandic Wall Limited Partnership, which still owns a 20-percent stake in the building. The beneficial owners of that entity aren’t public, but the 2004 deed document lists Joachim Ferdinand von Grumme-Douglas as its president. Reached by phone, Stephanie von Bismarck confirmed that she invested in the property[……]