03182018What's Hot:

In Taormina, a Playground for the Jet Set, Trump’s Worlds Will Collide

He said he was introduced to Mr. Trump there by his “dear friend” Elena Baronoff, a Soviet émigré who worked as Mr. Trump’s exclusive sales agent, helping sell at least $ 100 million worth of apartments to Russians.

Ms. Baronoff, who died in 2015, was a close friend of many Russian power brokers, including the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, according to Mr. Papale, recalling the time she told him that Mr. Lavrov was arriving by yacht from Sardinia.

“She told me Lavrov is coming,” he said, “Can you say hello?”

Despite the earlier press report here, he insisted that it was not Mr. Trump who had visited Taormina in the past, but rather Michael Dezer, the wildly wealthy developer of many of Mr. Trump’s Florida properties.

In 2012, Mr. Papale bestowed on Mr. Dezer his Wolfgang Goethe Taormina Media Award, which is usually reserved for writers who write nice things about the town. “A great entrepreneur like Dezer, an associate of Donald Trump, I wanted to give him this gift,” Mr. Papale explained.

He added proudly that Mr. Dezer had stood on a stage in front of his palazzo along with Ms. Baronoff and Russia’s general consul, who, on another occasion, read a message of thanks to Mr. Papale from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for his work in advancing the country’s image in Taormina.

Mr. Papale is a huge fan of Mr. Putin, and is equally enthusiastic about Mr. Trump. As night fell, he ignored the stunning views of his balcony, smoked Marlboro Lights and scrolled through pictures on his iPad.

Here he was hanging out on Mr. Dezer’s plane or with Ms. Baronoff in a Rolls-Royce. Here he was with the Sunny Isles Beach gang on election night in Trump Tower, and here was a photo of Mr. Trump, minutes after his victory, flashing a thumbs up.

“Here’s Donald,” he said.

Source: NYT > World

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