Is Donald Trump Really Worth $10 Billion?

How Much Is the Real Estate Mogul and Entrepreneur Really Worth?

Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Donald Trump very well may be a billionaire. But is he really worth $10 billion

The real estate mogul, entrepreneur, reality-television star and 2016 presidential hopeful says he is, indeed, worth $10 billion - a figure that would make him the wealthiest presidential candidate in modern history and by far the richest candidate running to succeed President Barack Obama.

Related Story: How Much is a Billion in Political Terms

Here is how the Trump campaign characterized his personal wealth one month after declaring his candidacy, in a July 2015 filing with the Federal Election Commission:

“Mr. Trump’s net worth has increased since the more than one year old financial statement produced at his presidential announcement. Real estate values in New York City, San Francisco, Miami and many other places where he owns property have gone up considerably during this period of time. His debt is a very small percentage of value, and at very low interest rates. As of this date, Mr. Trump‟s net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.”

Yes, the Trump campaign used capital letters to stress his net worth. The filing was the first time Trump ever disclosed his holdings publicly.

Scrutiny of Trump's Wealth

Trump is probably the wealthiest presidential candidate since H. Ross Perot ran as an independent candidate in 1992 1996. Perot was worth at least $3.6 billion at the time.

And Trump is worth far more than Republican Mitt Romney was when he ran for president in 2012.

“Ross Perot isn’t successful like me. Romney was — I have a Gucci store that’s worth more money than Romney,” Trump told the Des Moines Register.

Related Story: Who Was America's Poorest President?

But probably no other candidate's wealth has been as heavily scrutinized as Trump's, and many estimates have pegged his net worth as far less than $10 billion.

(It probably doesn't help his case that he's on record as saying “my net worth fluctuates, and it goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings — even my own feelings.”) 

Forbes ranks Trump 405th in its list of the world's wealthiest people. It estimates Trump is worth about $4.1 billion. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, by comparison, is worth an estimated $79.2 billion. And Warren Buffett is worth about $72.7 billion.

The bottom line? We don't really know, and probably never will know, what Trump is really worth. Not unless he releases his federal income-tax returns, something he hasn't ruled out. That's because federal election laws don't require candidates to disclose the exact value of their assets. Instead, they require office-seekers to provide only an estimated range of wealth.

As Trump's campaign explained of the Federal Election Commission form:

"This report was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump's massive wealth. For instance, they have boxes once a certain number is reached that simply state $50 million or more. Many of these boxes have been checked. As an example, if a building owned by Mr. Trump is worth $1.5 billion, the box checked is '$50,000,000 or more." 

Trump checked off those boxes almost two dozen times on his report, making it very difficult to determine the worth of his holdings. Still, those annual financial disclosures provide a useful snapshot of the personal wealth of those running for and elected to federal office.

And what we know is that Donald Trump is a very, very wealthy man. 

Does It Really Matter?

Does it really matter whether Trump is worth $4 billion or $10 billion? Not really. Not in the political realm. He'll be able to finance his own presidential campaign regardless of who's right, even if he loses the Republican presidential nomination and runs as an independent.

But to Donald Trump?

Yes. It does matter. Trump is famously egotistical, and so any suggestion that he's not worth as much as he says he is is bound to draw a fiery response - or even a lawsuit.

Yes, Trump has gone after at lease one journalist who suggested he's worth far less than he claims. That lawsuit was dismissed.