[toc]There’s seldom a boring day in Atlantic City, and Monday was no exception.
The iconic letters spelling out the name T-R-U-M-P, which were recently removed from the exterior of the now-shuttered Trump Taj Mahal, found their way to eBay and later to a courtroom, according to an article by Philly.com writer Amy Rosenberg.
She’s been following the far-more-interesting-than-it-should-be story of the Trump signs.
According to Rosenberg’s reporting, two men operating the business RUMP (Recycling of Urban Materials for Profit) listed the pieces of the sign that spell out the name T-R-U-M-P on eBay with a starting bid of $5,000.
Days later, bidding hit $7,500.
The interest in the signs led to Eastern Sign Tech LLC, the company that removed the signs and from which RUMP had purportedly purchased the signs, claiming they were stolen and suing for their return.
The legal conflict led to eBay canceling the auction.
Letters trump-eted as a bargain
RUMP’s version of events is that it bought two Trump signs from the company during the removal process.
Channeling their inner Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, two men (including former Press of Atlantic City reporter Reuben Kramer) were driving by when the Trump signs were being removed from the Taj Mahal.
Noticing the letters on the ground, they stopped and asked if the signs were for sale.
After some back and forth with workers, they claim to have purchased the signs for $250, which doesn’t seem to be in dispute based on the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, after buying the signs, the two men were busy loading the signs on a truck when they were approached by a Trump Taj Mahal security guard.
“The guard wished them well, expressing his personal opinion that they had gotten a bargain as the letters would be valuable some day, and sent the plaintiff partners on their way,” the lawsuit reads.
A bargain is an understatement, considering the eBay bidding had already valued one of the signs much higher, at least 60 times its purchase price.
And according to the lawsuit filed to stop the auction and retrieve the signs, they’re valued at $100,000 each — a number that seems to have been pulled out of thin air by Donald Trump himself.
What’s actually going on here?
The lawsuit contends that Trump “jealously guarded his brand and successfully created a situation where his name alone or association with his name lends value to what might otherwise be an ordinary product” and how it would be “unusual for an item such as this signage to come on the market.”
But this wasn’t a Trump production. The signs were being removed by the current owner of the property, Carl Icahn, under court order.
It’s doubtful Icahn, who also owns the Tropicana in AC, considered the signs’ historical importance or monetary value. He just wanted them gone ahead of a court-mandated deadline to have them removed.
Criminal act improbable
There is no shortage of explanations for how Kramer and his colleague came to possess the signs. But theft seems unlikely considering the size of the letters and the number of people on site, including the security guard who interacted with the duo.
Based on my admittedly limited knowledge of salvage companies, it’s more likely this is either a case of seller’s remorse or perhaps a couple employees making an executive decision above their pay grade — selling something they weren’t authorized to sell.
It’s easy to understand how a couple of salvage people tasked with removing the signs and bringing them to a junkyard decided to take $250 for them, especially since it saves them a ride and the cost of scrapping them.
It’s just as reasonable to envision the employees of the sign company (whose standard operating procedure is to junk the signs they remove) not realizing the actual value of the signs, especially if their orders were to trash them.
As in the case above, selling the signs not only puts $250 in their pockets, but also saves them the dumping fee.
Image credit: DiegoMariottini / Shutterstock.com