Real Estate Goldmine

Rooms To Let: CLE (RTL) invites artists to create work in vacant, foreclosed homes slated for demolition in Cleveland’s Slavic Village. Joshua Starcher will be collaborating with Melissa Estro on an installation titled Real Estate Goldmine for RTL that addresses the foreclosure crisis [1] that has deeply affected cities across the country, hitting Slavic Village [2] particularly hard.

In our research we were particularly struck by the fact that while this crisis was unfolding, Donald Trump was actively advertising [3] what he claims was not a get-rich-quick scheme via Trump University [4] called Real Estate Goldmine: How to Get Rich Investing in Pre-Foreclosures. [5] In it aspiring real estate investors and house flippers are instructed to target homeowners in compromised positions, headed toward foreclosure, and convince them to sell their homes at a discounted price. The seminar describes the ideal homeowner as a “borrower”, "… out of work, … has $50,000 in unpaid medical claims, … is completely disabled, … had an extraordinarily messy divorce where everything has been squandered." [6]

Our objective is to subtly bring attention to the absurdity of this fact. To illustrate this we will create a replica of a living room one might have found in the home prior to falling victim to this predatory business model. We will fill the walls with gold-framed photographs that, at first glance, are of people in front of or inside homes. Upon closer inspection the viewer will see that the people in the photos have been cut out and replaced with medical bills, divorce papers, and foreclosure notices symbolizing traits aspiring investors were taught are desirable qualities.

The installation, titled Real Estate Goldmine, will be on display during Rooms To Let May 20th and 21st.

We will be updating this page leading up to the exhibition.


1) New York Times: All Boarded Up – All Boarded Up – How Cleveland is Dealing With Mass Foreclosures

2) CNN Money:  Foreclosures: Hardest Hit Zip Codes, June 19, 2007

3) Next City: Cleveland’s Pain Was Donald Trump’s Gain

4) New Yorker: Trump University: It’s Worse Than You Think

5) Real Estate Goldmine: How to Get Rich Investing in Pre-Foreclosures

6) Mother Jones: Trump University Taught Students How To Exploit Disabled Homeowners