Opinion: Billionaire Who Backs Deadbeat Donald Sues Over Unpaid Bill

Hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson is suing a building developer over a multimillion-dollar redecorating bill for the Florida mansion where he held a record-breaking $50.5 million Trump fundraiser last month.It’s the latest legal fracas for Paulson, who is embroiled in a very bitter divorce with his estranged wife and an equally toxic dispute with his former

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Hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson is suing a building developer over a multimillion-dollar redecorating bill for the Florida mansion where he held a record-breaking $50.5 million Trump fundraiser last month.

It’s the latest legal fracas for Paulson, who is embroiled in a very bitter divorce with his estranged wife and an equally toxic dispute with his former business partner.

He claims the developer owes him $1.5 million in reimbursement for excess furniture that was ordered. Curiously, he is going to court over it while doing his best to put an infamous deadbeat back in the White House.

Donald Trump has a long history of breaking financial agreements and ignoring debts to everyone from contractors who built the Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City to the guy who installed three crystal chandeliers in the main ballroom at Mar-a-Lago.

This apparently does not give Paulson pause, but he’s gone to court over a past-due bill that amounts to 1/2333 of the fortune he made shorting the U.S. housing market. Maybe the fact that Trump has said he would make a good treasury secretary has something to do with that.

Donald and Melania Trump

Donald and Melania Trump arrive at the Palm Beach home of billionaire investor John Paulson on April 6, 2024.

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

The suit, first reported in The Aspen Daily News, was filed on May 4 in Pitkin County District Court in Colorado, where the original deal between Paulson and developer Bob Bowden was made.

Paulson says in court papers that he gave Bowden a maximum budget of $6 million to redo the interior of the $110 million Palm Beach home, which has nine bedrooms and 10 bathrooms.

“The actual costs far exceeded the budget by several million dollars,” Paulson alleges in the suit.

The papers say Bowden offered to buy back “certain furnishings” worth $1.5 million but asked for time to come up with the money. The suit says Paulson agreed to give him up to a year, and the two men signed a formal reimbursement agreement.

Under the agreement, according to the suit, Bowden promised to pay Paulson as he sold the furniture, with the full balance coming by March 31, 2024. But Bowden is accused of reneging—failing to provide an inventory or monthly accounting of sales and paying Paulson not a penny.

Paulson’s attorney declined to comment, but Bowden’s attorney, Michelle Schindler, challenged the suit as “pretty premature.”

“We dispute the allegations,” she told The Daily Beast. “I think there’s some miscommunications and we’re gonna work to resolve it. And if we can’t resolve it, we’ll defend the lawsuit.”

Schindler said there has not been any communication between Bowden and Paulson about the suit and she declined to address specific allegations.

“If you want to wait for my answer in the lawsuit, you can do that,” she said.

Schindler described her client as “one of the best developers and contractors in interior design in Aspen” and said he had worked with Paulson on a “few projects.” She quoted Bowden as saying, “John Paulson is one of the finest guys I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the last 10 years and four homes. He has a great eye and I’d gladly do another project with him. His current situation is a simple disagreement and we will work to resolve it.”

Bowden is also facing a related lawsuit filed on April 2 in Pitkin County District Court by Lily De Asa Design—a firm he brought in to work on Paulson’s mansion. The suit alleges that Bowden pocketed some of $167,000 that Paulson gave him with the understanding it would go to the design firm.

“We just found out about that,” Schindler said. “I have no idea about that. So we’re looking into the facts… and [will] address it as needed.”

Donald Trump and Melania Trump at the home of John Paulson and his girlfriend Alina de Almeida

Donald Trump and Melania Trump at the home of John Paulson and his girlfriend Alina de Almeida for a $50 million fundraiser.

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

Bowden is also a real estate agent. In 2015, he caused a local sensation when he posted a viral minute-long video on YouTube of himself with the actress Melanie Griffith showing her $8.9 million home atop Aspen Mountain.

The house did not sell for four years, but Bowden apparently made something of a name for himself in Aspen, where Paulson purchased a $24.5 million home in 2010 and then two ranches that once belonged to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan for $49 million.

In 2021, Paulson acquired the grand mansion in Palm Beach and provided Bowden with millions to make it even grander. But billionaires can be hard to please, and Bowden appears to have gone overboard.

From what his attorney said, it sounds like Bowden intends to make good on the debt. And that’s more than anyone could ever say about Paulson’s pal, Donald Trump.

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