Trump’s Moscow Trip in the ’90s Had Another Luminary: Apollo’s Leon Black
(Bloomberg) -- For all the scrutiny of Donald Trump’s business forays into Russia, fresh tidbits keep coming to light. A newly posted video of his visit to Moscow in the mid-1990s shows a previously undisclosed participant -- Apollo Global Management LLC’s Leon Black.
The 29-second Russian news segment, uploaded to a YouTube channel featuring Russian and Soviet TV clips, shows Trump sitting in a chandeliered hall, across a long table from a Moscow official. A few seats down from a youthful Trump sits U.S. investor Bennett LeBow. And next to him, with then-dark hair, is Black.
No one has been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with the visit, during which Trump vowed to build a Moscow skyscraper. That deal didn’t come to fruition, nor did several subsequent attempts by Trump to stamp his brand name on Moscow’s skyline.
Neither Black nor Apollo did any business in Russia involving Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter. Stefan Prelog, a spokesman for Apollo, declined to comment.
Previous reports of Trump’s 1996 visit to Moscow have said he was accompanied by LeBow and Howard Lorber, now the chairman and CEO, respectively, of Vector Group. Back then, LeBow and Lorber were involved in a partnership with the city of Moscow that ran an office development at the center of Russia’s capital. LeBow was the driving force behind Trump’s visit to meet officials including Moscow Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, according to a report of the visit.
A spokeswoman for Vector didn’t immediately provide a comment.
While nothing came of Trump’s 1996 skyscraper plan, a deal panned out for Black that didn’t involve the future U.S. president. In 1998, a real-estate unit of Black’s Apollo reached an agreement with one of LeBow’s ventures to develop a new phase of the Moscow office complex, Ducat Place.
In the YouTube video, which was posted on January 31, Trump’s Moscow meeting is characterized as taking place in December 2015. But the video itself doesn’t bear a date, and it seems apparent that it was filmed during Trump’s November 1996 visit. The clothing worn by several participants in the meeting, including Trump and LeBow, matches what they wore in photographs taken by the Moscow Times in November 1996.
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