How did Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump earn as much as £120m last year?

Arwa Mahdawi
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

Like many millennials, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner juggle their day jobs with side hustles – and boy have they been hustling. New financial disclosures show that the gruesome twosome made between $36.2m (£27.7m) and $157m in combined outside income while they worked in the White House last year. (It is impossible to pinpoint the exact amount because they are each required only to report within a number of very large ranges, but suffice to say they are not struggling.)

Unlike many millennials, Javanka are not rustling up extra cash by walking dogs or selling T-shirts. So where does their money come from? I would love to be able to tell you, but the thing about ludicrously rich people is that their finances tend to be incredibly opaque. A cynic might say this is by design – that many of the 1% hide their wealth behind complex legal arrangements to avoid taxes and obscure dodgy dealings.

I am not accusing the Kushner-Trumps of anything so sordid – the US president’s senior advisers are devoted public servants, after all. However, there are items on their disclosure documents that raise interesting questions.

Let’s start with Kushner’s stake in Cadre, an online property broker, which is worth between $25m and $50m. “Cadre is going to make us billionaires,” the boy wonder announced to colleagues when he co-founded the company with his brother in 2014. It certainly seems to be doing well: the Guardian reported last year that Cadre had received $90m in foreign funding, funnelled through secretive offshore companies, since 2017. However, Kushner was so busy making peace in the Middle East that apparently he forgot about Cadre and only belatedly added his stake in the company to his disclosure form.

It is still not clear how involved he is with the company. At the beginning of the year, it was reported that Kushner had divested from the startup after scrutiny over potential conflicts of interest. Then, last month, it was reported that he had put his plans to divest on hold; in the meantime, Cadre has promised not to seek out foreign investors. Just trust them on this, guys! Nothing to see here.

Another item on Kushner’s financial report is the $1m-$5m he received from a company called Bergel 715 Associates last year. The New York Times has dug into Bergel 715’s dealings and discovered that Rosemary Vrablic, a Deutsche Bank employee, and two colleagues bought a $1.5m apartment from the company in 2013.

This is notable because Vrablic is a longtime personal banker of Donald Trump and Kushner; the pair had received $190m in loans from Deutsche Bank at the time. Banks tend to restrict employees from personal dealings with clients because of potential conflicts of interest and Deutsche Bank has opened an internal review into the purchase of the property. Who wants to bet that the outcome of this will be some form of “nothing to see here”?

While most of Javanka’s riches come from property, it would be unfeminist of me not to mention Ivanka’s literary career. Her disclosure for 2018 showed a $263,500 instalment of her advance (reportedly $787,500) for her 2017 literary masterpiece Women Who Work. This is a steal for a book in which Ivanka imparts philosophical gems such as “women who work are real” and confesses that often she did not have time to treat herself to a massage during the 2016 election.

Alas, this year income from the book is listed as “none (or less than $201)”. Luckily, there is massage money elsewhere. To paraphrase from her tome, women who work are real, as are people who generate enormous passive income from dividends and rent while pretending to work in the White House.

  • Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist