Meet the billionaire 'king of subprime car loans' whose company underwrote Trump's $175 million civil fraud bond

  • Billionaire Don Hankey's company underwrote a $175 million appeal bond for Donald Trump.

  • Hankey's net worth is estimated at $7.4 billion and he oversees a $22.5 billion automotive empire.

  • Hankey is known for helping finance the Bel Air mansion "The One," which flopped in an auction.

Billionaire Don Hankey swooped in on Monday and underwrote a $175 million appeal bond for Donald Trump, saving the former president from getting his assets sold out from under him while he appeals his civil fraud case.

The 80-year-old oversees Hankey Group, which employs over 3,400 people and whose assets are worth around $22.5 billion, per Forbes. The empire consists of eight companies in the automotive, finance, technology, real estate, and insurance industries.

Hankey's Knight Specialty Insurance provided Trump's bond on Monday, three days before deadline.

It's not the first time Hankey has been financially tied to an entity that's helped Trump out of a potential bind, although the businessman told Bloomberg he didn't do it for political reasons.

"Yes, I voted for him in the past, but this is a business deal and this is what we do," Hankey said in an interview with Bloomberg about the $175 million bond. "I have never met Donald Trump, nor talked to him on the phone."

Hankey told the publication that he has also invested in Axos Bank, which refinanced Trump Tower in 2022 for $100 million after the previous loan for that amount had been placed on a debt watch list — but that his Axos Bank investment had nothing to do with Trump's bond. Axos Bank CEO Greg Garrabrants has previously donated around $50,000 to Republican campaigns since 2012, with $9,600 in support of Trump, according to Federal elections records.

Hankey's net worth is estimated at $7.4 billion, according to Forbes — and it's nearly doubled within the last three years.

Hankey grew up a lot worker, washing and polishing cars, and later held a job as a salesman at his father's Ford dealership, which he fully acquired in 1972 and built his empire from, Bloomberg reported.

Dubbed the "little-known king of subprime car loans" in his Forbes profile, his largest venture, Westlake Financial Services, operates as a subprime financing company and is worth $16.8 billion in assets, according to the Hankey Group website. Westlake collaborates with car dealerships nationwide to offer loans to people with poor or nonexistent credit.

The group also owns a real estate firm, Hankey Investment Company LP. The company owns 488,343 square feet of commercial property and 12 million square feet of urban development land in Southern California, according to the Hankey Group website.

The billionaire generated buzz two years ago when he poured a reported $82.5 in financing into Bel Air megamansion "The One," developed by Nile Niami. The 105,000-square-foot property contains 21 bedrooms and 42 full bathrooms. It also includes a 4,000-square-foot guesthouse and a long list of luxury amenities including multiple infinity pools, a nightclub, a spa, a beauty salon, a bowling alley, and a movie theater.

Aerial view of Bel Air Los Angeles neighborhood with mansions and golf course.
An aerial view of Bel Air Los Angeles neighborhood with mansions and golf course.David Sucsy/Getty

However, a lack of interest in the property led to financial issues for its developer, Nial Niami's Crestlloyd, which filed for bankruptcy protection. The mansion ended up auctioning for less than half of its expected $500 million worth.

Hankey became involved in some of the legal challenges over the property's ownership, but said he got all his capital commitments back after the property sold, the Los Angeles Business Journal reported.

"The One" mansion Bel Air
"The One" in Bel Air is a 105,000-square-foot mansion.Allen J. Schaben/Getty

Hankey attended the University of Southern California and currently resides in Malibu.

He has been married for 40 years to Debbie Hankey and has four children, according to Forbes.

Read the original article on Business Insider