Todd Brassner, who died after a fire gutted his apartment on the 50th floor of Trump Tower on Saturday evening, was an art dealer and bon vivant with an extensive art collection and about 250 vintage guitars and ukuleles in his apartment. His collection, listed as worth more than $3 million in a 2015 bankruptcy filing, included a 1975 portrait of himself by Andy Warhol, who had been a friend.
According to friends, Brassner, 67, was in declining health and had been trying to sell his apartment since President Trump was elected. "He said, 'This is getting untenable,'" Stephen Dwire, a musician and music producer who had been friends with Brassner since they were 14, told The New York Times. "It was like living in an armed camp. But when people heard it was a Trump building, he couldn't give it away." Brassner had purchased the unit in 1996, and he estimated in 2015 that it was worth $2.5 million.
Fire officials have not determined the cause of the blaze. Like other residential units in Trump Tower, Brassner's apartment had a smoke detector but no sprinklers — Trump and other real estate developers had lobbied New York's city council in 1999 against a proposal to retrofit older residential towers with sprinklers, arguing it would add $4 per square foot to the cost of an apartment, the Times says. Officials in then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration agreed that it would be too expensive.
"We send our prayers and deepest condolences to Mr. Brassner's family and loved ones," a Trump Organization spokeswoman said Sunday. On Saturday, before the fire was extinguished and Brassner's death confirmed, Trump tweeted: "Fire at Trump Tower is out. Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!" Brassner inherited money from his father soon after filing for bankruptcy in 2015, and "he showed up at my house the next day in a brand-new red Lamborghini," fellow art collector Stuart Pivar said. "That was Todd."