Flashy Symbol of an Acquisitive Age: DONALD TRUMP

Young, handsome and ridiculously rich, DONALD TRUMP loves making deals and money, loathes losing and has an ego as big as the Ritz -- er, Plaza

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At 6 ft. 2 in., real estate tycoon Donald J. (for John) Trump does not really loom colossus-high above the horizon of New York and New Jersey. He has created no great work of art or ideas, and even as a maker or possessor of money he does not rank among the top ten, or even 50. Yet at 42 he has seized a large fistful of that contemporary coin known as celebrity. There has been artfully hyped talk about his having political ambitions, worrying about nuclear proliferation, even someday running for President. No matter how farfetched that may be, something about his combination of blue-eyed swagger and success has caught the public fancy and made him in many ways a symbol of an acquisitive and mercenary age.

Gossip columnist Liz Smith summed it up when she wrote, "Even if Trump is the truest, most flamboyant child of Mammon yet produced at this waning moment of the 20th century, I like his style." New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger took a graver view: "He has yet to commission a really serious work of architecture. If he has a style, it is flashiness. It's a malady of the age. Trump just represents it the most." Characteristically, Trump responded by sneering that Goldberger was unqualified to judge his buildings because he wore cheap suits.

Now that a new year has dawned, observers of the Trump empire can rather easily imagine some of the emperor's resolutions for 1989: to make more money than ever, to buy more expensive gewgaws than ever, to get more publicity than ever -- and if Mikhail Gorbachev passed up a chance to visit Trump Tower during his visit to New York last month, well, there's always next time. Failure plays no large part in Trump's resolutions. On the contrary, he can tot up enough acquisitions for several lifetimes. Among them:

-- All those Manhattan skyscrapers, notably Trump Tower, "the ultimate piece of property," a Fifth Avenue glitzshop-and-condo palace, with an 80-ft. waterfall splashing down the pink marble walls of the atrium, that cost $200 million to build in 1982; Trump Plaza, a 37-story East 61 Street castle that has housed, among others, Dick Clark and Martina Navratilova; and Trump Parc, a 37-story caravansary that was once the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel, overlooking Central Park.

-- All those Atlantic City gambling casinos, notably Trump Plaza and Trump's Castle. It is not true that Trump owns India's Taj Mahal, but he does own Atlantic City's version, which will be three times the size of the puny original. Trump acquired this toy after much bargaining with TV entertainer Merv Griffin over the purchase of troubled Resorts International, which ended with Trump's getting the unfinished Taj Mahal and Griffin's getting everything else. This will make Trump the biggest dealer in Las Vegas East. (Estimated operating profits this year: $100 million.)

-- The newly acquired Eastern Air Shuttle ($365 million), "the single greatest franchise in the world," soon to be renamed the Trump Shuttle, and probably expanded to carry gamblers from New York to Atlantic City so they can get their money to Trump's casinos all the faster.

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