Donald Trump just got busted for exaggerating his net worth by more than 100 percent -- and he's not happy about it

In true Trump fashion, he lashed out at the magazine for it's report: "Forbes is a bankrupt magazine"

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published September 29, 2015 4:43PM (EDT)

Donald Trump                      (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)
Donald Trump (Reuters/Brendan Mcdermid)

Donald Trump's net worth is less than half of the $10 billion he claims, according to the latest estimate from Forbes in its list of the 400 richest Americans.

Far from the $10 billion dollar figure Trump routinely brags about on the campaign trail or from his stoop in Trump Tower, Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.5 billion.

Trump first made the Forbes 400 list in 1982, when he shared the position with his father Fred, the original Trump real-estate tycoon who made millions building apartments in Brooklyn and Queens before handing over the family business to his son. Their combined net worth at the time was half a billion dollars. Trump would arrive on the list again as a billionaire for the first time only five years later, but his wild claims about his personal wealth have been dogged by accusations of exaggeration and hyperbole for years. Forbes' latest assessment:

Trump has filed statements claiming he’s worth at least $10 billion or, as he put in a press release, TEN BILLION DOLLARS (capitalization his). After interviewing more than 80 sources and devoting unprecedented resources to valuing a single fortune, we’re going with a figure less than half that–$4.5 billion, albeit still the highest figure we’ve ever had for him.

Forbes editor Randall Lane explained on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that the main discrepancy between Trump's figure and the magazine's valuation stems from Trump's inclusion of his "brand" in his total net worth.  Lane said that after spending more time investigating Trump's market value than any other figure in the list's 33-year history (Lane claimed that other top 400 listers  are investigated for nearly a year by the Forbes staff), he believes the valuation of $4.5 billion "settled the issue."

Lane explained that although Trump argues that his brand value stands at $3.5 - $4 billion alone, Forbes "think(s) that what he makes is based on his brand. We think that's factored into the deals he already cuts, so as a policy we do not count that."

"There's been a rule at Forbes for the last 30 years," Lane admitted, "take what Trump says and divide by three and you probably get the real number."

In July, Bloomberg arrived at a similarly deflated tally of Trump's net worth, estimating the real-estate mogul was actually worth closer to $3 billion total.

“Of course your numbers are wrong ... I’m worth much more than you have me down [for]," Trump insisted during an extended two hour interview with Forbes.

"I’m running for president ... I don’t look good, to be honest. I mean, I look better if I’m worth $10 billion than if I’m worth $4 billion," he admitted before eventually lashing out against the publication in typical Trump fashion.

Trump said that another "respected magazine that's coming out" estimated his fortune at closer to $11.5 billion.

“You’re gonna look bad,” Trump warned Forbes. “And look, all I can say is Forbes is a bankrupt magazine, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s all I’m gonna say. ‘Cause it’s embarrassing to me.”

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By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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