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Billionaire Trump neighbor says his Mar-a-Lago crowd aren't real friends: 'It's all transactional'

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4 days ago mjankowicz@businessinsider.com (Mia Jankowicz)
Former President Donald Trump, left, waves to guests during an election night party at Mar-a-Lago, Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Phelan M. Ebenhack for The Washington Post via Getty Images © Phelan M. Ebenhack for The Washington Post via Getty Images Former President Donald Trump, left, waves to guests during an election night party at Mar-a-Lago, Tuesday, November 8, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida. Phelan M. Ebenhack for The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • Trump doesn't have real friends at Mar-a-Lago, a Florida billionaire told the Financial Times. 
  • Despite the atmosphere of adulation, it's "all transactional," Jeff Greene told the paper. 
  • Reporters have long noted Trump's love of associating with the rich and famous. 

A billionaire who lives near Trump in Florida said that former President Donald Trump is not surrounded by true friends at the club, according to the Financial Times.

Real estate mogul Jeff Greene told the paper that the atmosphere of adulation there is "all transactional."

The paper said Greene joined as a Mar-a-Lago member in 2010. It was not clear if he remained part of the club.

Trump is well-known for holding court among allies and admirers at his Florida home, often soaking up applause when he walks in the room, as filmmaker Alex Holder said earlier this year. 

And the FT described the many fans — including wealthy "Trumpettes" — who flock to Mar-a-Lago and lavish praise on the former president. Greene suggested this is all fake. 

Asked who Trump's close friends are, Greene told the paper: "I don't think he has any friends."

He said that one person he knows who plays golf with Trump "all the time" was never invited to the White House when Trump was president, implying that Trump did not really much care for him.

In 2018, Greene made a failed attempt at running for Florida governor as a Democrat, eight years after a 2010 attempt at the US Senate.

Before the 2018 campaign — when Trump appeared to take offense at an attack ad Greene ran — the pair had a cordial relationship, Greene told the paper. 

But that was largely due to his wealth, Greene suggested. "He would come over to my table, I think because I was a billionaire," he told the FT. "He likes billionaires."

Former President Donald Trump made a 2024 White House run official on November 15, 2022, in the grand ballroom at Mar-a-Lago. Kimberly Leonard/Insider © Kimberly Leonard/Insider Former President Donald Trump made a 2024 White House run official on November 15, 2022, in the grand ballroom at Mar-a-Lago. Kimberly Leonard/Insider

It's a characterization that also came up in "Confidence Man," the recent book by Trump-watching New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

In an excerpt seen by Insider, Trump considered his time as president worth it because he made "so many rich friends and nobody knows who they are." Haberman wrote that she found the remark "jarring" when Trump said it.

Speaking of the legions of fans who gravitate towards Trump's club, Greene told the paper: "They want to be around him because he's the ex-president."

Trump "likes people to defer to him . . . and tell him how good he is," Greene told the FT.

Despite this, Greene said he felt more welcome at Mar-a-Lago than at other clubs.

Others, such as British hard-right politician Nigel Farage, told the paper that he considered Trump a "good friend" who "meant it" when he said in 2016 they would be friends for life.

A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment, sent on Thanksgiving. 

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