Trouble with A Big T

Running short on cash, an '80s icon struggles to save his overleveraged empire

Before making his fateful decision to sink $1 billion into the bejeweled Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, Donald Trump should have done his homework on the ill fortune that befell the builder of the original Taj. The cost of constructing the 17th century Indian marvel, which took 20,000 laborers 22 years to complete, eventually exhausted the royal treasury of the Shahjahan and triggered the decline of the Mogul Empire. Nearly 350 years later, the Taj's modern namesake may have unleashed the grandiose downfall of Manhattan's self-styled King of the Deal.

His empire lay under siege last week, staggering beneath the...

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