Is Ivana’s Burial Site A Tax Break for Trump or a Rare Win-Win?
While Trump is likely thrilled with the possible tax implications, a close family friend suggests Ivana would be right at home along the fairway.
Donald Trump, Barron Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump at the funeral of Ivana Trump on July 20, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by GWR/Star Max/GC Images)
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According to Fortune Magazine, “Under New Jersey law, land being used for cemetery purposes is exempt from real estate and personal property taxes, as well as sales tax, inheritance tax, business tax, and income tax. Cemetery property is also exempt from sale for collection of judgments, with cemetery trust funds and trust income exempt from both tax and sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the company.”
To investigate further, I wanted to know if Ivana Trump ever expressed to anyone if she wanted to be buried at Trump’s course at Bedminster. So I asked the TV presenter Nikki Haskell, who was one of the six non-family members at Ivana’s internment and later at her burial, and she said no, Ivana hadn’t specified where she wanted to be buried—but that she would be “thrilled” her grave was at Bedminster because that meant people can see it.
Here’s our Q&A condensed for clarity:
HASKELL: She didn't want to be buried where people wouldn't see her. They [the family] really thought it out… I think it was a beautiful gesture. And I think she's probably very happy there.
WARD: There are people saying, Well, Trump did it to get tax credits.
HASKELL: Listen, there [are] people who are going to say everything about everything; anything that Donald does is always a scandal, a problem. Yes, it was unusual. There was a very, very, very touching ceremony. I was at the funeral parlor when Ivana was in her casket. There w[ere] only five of her friends [who] were there with the family…
WARD: Who were the five friends?
HASKELL: Well, there was Dennis Basso and his husband. And myself and Martha Kramer and her husband Neal Fox and Vivian Serota. Those were her only friends [who] were there, and we've been life-long friends with her. And we went to the funeral parlor with just the family. She was in an open casket. I'd never seen an open casket before. But she looked absolutely beautiful. She was all tucked in [in] white velvet and gold. After the funeral, we all went to Bedminster. Actually, the last time I was there was when Ivanka got married, and it was beautiful. And I think that [Ivana] would be thrilled that she was there actually.
WARD: So she didn't make any plans herself that you know of?
HASKELL: No. She didn't make any plans. She did not designate where she wanted to be buried. She said that she wanted to be buried someplace where her family could see her; she didn't want to be buried away in some cemetery someplace where nobody ever goes to see you. And it was an unexpected, you know—nobody expected her to die. She was leaving the next day for San Tropez.
So it wasn't as if she was sick and this was something [the Trumps] did on the spot. And I think it was very well thought out. And actually I thought it was quite beautiful. The service at the country club—the priest was there and the opera singer that sang in the church was there and they did a beautiful sermon for her. They had a tent up, and then afterwards, the family went inside and had dinner, and it was really well done.
It was a little unusual, I grant you. I was surprised that she was being buried there, but after I was there, it was so beautiful—such a beautiful piece of property. So serene. It was amazing that they got it together that fast.
WARD: This many years after their contentious divorce, I never got the feeling there was any lingering animosity between Trump and Ivana. [Note: In 2015, Ivana released a statement saying that reports she had accused Trump of rape in a court deposition from the 1990s were “totally without merit.”]
HASKELL: There really wasn't. They were friends to the end. She'd be friendly with Donald. I was friendly with Donald since the early seventies. And Donald spoke at the grave site—
WARD: Did he?
HASKELL: Yes. And the whole family was there—all of his children and everybody—and it was a very touching speech about how amazing she was. And then he asked me to speak. He said, I want Nikki to speak, because I know Nikki longer than I know Ivana. And I spoke. It was really well planned out. It was really quite lovely, I have to say.
WARD: When he spoke about her, was there anything he said that surprised you?
HASKELL: No. Donald was very sad about her dying. They had three children together. They ha[ve] 10 grandchildren. They have history.
There's always somebody who's going to say something about everything Donald does. And that's just the way it is. You know, he thinks outside of the box, but the family was in accord with the whole thing.
They were very concerned about where they were going to bury her because there was no preparation or anything that was set beforehand. She was a young woman. I'm sure that she hadn't even thought about dying.
They didn't have a family plot. I guess that's [now] worked out. They decided that that's what [this will be], and it's so beautiful. I mean, it's the most beautiful view—there are hills and trees. Listen, when you’re dead you’re dead. Where they bury you—those things are for your family.
WARD: This now will be where the Trumps are buried, I assume?
HASKELL: I have no idea. I don't know anything.
WARD: And what about Melania? A lot has been written about Ivana’s relationship with Melania.
HASKELL: Melania was there. Melania was terrific. It was a sad day for everyone. Everybody in the family was extremely distraught.
It was handled magnificently. They did everything with great love and affection. Everything was perfectly planned out perfectly. It wasn't like slapped together or we'll just do this or do that. It was really very touching and very moving. And you know, everybody's going to say something bad about Donald, but that's just because, you know, because they can. But I only got the most wonderful vibes from the whole thing.
WARD: Thank you. I really appreciate it.