President Donald Trump received condemnation for claiming he canceled a trip to London, England, due to a “bad deal” that the Obama administration had made in selling the U.S. Embassy located in that city.
Critics called him out for making an inaccurate statement last week regarding who was in charge when the building was sold for “peanuts.”
But new revelations have seemingly added new validity to what the president said.
“Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for ‘peanuts,’ only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”
According to CNN, it was actually in 2008, during the administration of former President George W. Bush, that it was decided the London embassy would move from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms.
However, though it was the Bush administration who initiated the sale of the old embassy, it appears that the sale was completed in November 2009, roughly eight months after then-President Barack Obama was inaugurated.
This suggests the Obama administration had to give final approval over the sale.
The embassy was bought by a real estate company representing the Qatari royal family, which intends to turn the building into a luxury hotel.
Moreover, the building may indeed have been sold for hundreds of millions of dollars less than it was worth, according to Land Registry records reviewed by The U.K. Daily Mail.
The land upon which the old embassy was built is actually owned by the Duke of Westminster, though in 1954, one of the duke’s predecessors sold the U.S. government a 999-year lease on the property.
The U.S. eventually decided to move the embassy because officials said it would not be possible to implement necessary security measures in the old building.
The Daily Mail reported that experts estimated the building was worth roughly $687 million. But it apparently only sold for about $431 million — thus representing more than a $250 million difference and lending credence to Trump’s “peanuts” claim.
According to Politifact, the U.S. actually received the money from the sale in August 2013. It is not clear whether the price was determined under the Bush or Obama administration.
Meanwhile, a British real estate expert suggested to The Daily Mail that it’s possible the U.S. “sold the family silver” in terms of its decision to move its embassy from Grosvenor Square to Nine Elms.
Christian Warman, the director of central London estate agency Tedworth Property, called Grosvenor Square “one of London’s finest addresses” and noted that the existing embassy “was very prominent and hugely well connected to businesses and professionals who live and work in the area.”
He did admit, though, that the new embassy — which is believed to have cost at least $1 billion to build — is located “in one of London’s up and coming areas.”
“‘In terms of whether the Americans have sold the family silver; yes Mayfair is always going to be a prime hub of London, and right now Nine Elms isn’t, but it could become a very important business and residential area by end of the first quarter of this century,” he said.
“Not least as a result of the American embassy going there.”
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