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Lawsuit demands Trump return Albemarle land

(AP) A former Virginia socialite’s son who sold the sprawling front yard of his family’s 45-room mansion to the Donald Trump real estate empire says he’s been cheated and wants the land back.

The John W. Kluge Jr. Trust has filed a lawsuit demanding the return of 217 acres fronting Albemarle House, which Trump bought last year for $6.5 million. The estate formerly was owned by Patricia Kluge, ex-wife of the late billionaire media mogul John Kluge. Trump bought it from the Bank of America after the lender foreclosed on the property.

Before buying the mansion and about 3,000 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills, Trump Virginia Acquisitions paid $150,000 for the front parcel. The lawsuit filed last week in Albemarle County Circuit Court says Trump agreed to pay more if he was able to buy the mansion within two years, but has refused to make good on the deal. Plaintiffs’ attorney Edward MacMahon said the second payment, which was based on the sales price of the 23,500-square-foot brick Georgian house, should be about $200,000.

“It’s obviously not news that Donald Trump doesn’t want to pay a bill, but it is news that he won’t pay for something and expects to keep it,” MacMahon said in a telephone interview.

Trump’s son Eric, executive vice president of Trump Virginia Acquisitions, denied owing the additional payment in a letter to the Kluge trust in November. The letter, filed as an exhibit with the trust’s lawsuit, also says the company will bill the trust for its legal fees related to the dispute.

Eric Trump did not immediately return telephone messages left at his New York office.

Patricia Kluge acquired Albemarle House in her 1990 divorce. It was designed with the help of architect David Easton in the style of an 18th century English country manor, with multilevel English gardens and fountains, a swimming pool, a chapel and a rustic guest cabin. She hosted extravagant social events in the 1980s for royalty, corporate leaders, celebrities, politicians and literary figures at the home.

Kluge later built a vineyard and winery, which she also lost in foreclosure. Trump bought the wine business, which Eric Trump is now operating as Trump Winery, for about $6.2 million before acquiring the rest of the Kluge estate.

Albemarle House originally was listed for sale in 2009 for $100 million, but the price quickly dropped before Bank of America foreclosed and bought the property for $16 million.

Patricia Kluge and her husband, William Moses, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in June 2011, and have moved to New York.

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