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WALL STREET’S PINK FLAMINGOS

ONCE KNOWN AS A MAJOR STOP ON AMERICA’S ‘COCAINE HIGHWAY,’ WEST PALM BEACH IS QUICKLY TURNING INTO A NEW CENTER OF MONEY AND POWER. THE REASON: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

THE NIGHT I FLEW INTO WEST PALM BEACH, A STRING OF DEADLY TORNADOES RIPPED ACROSS FLORIDA. HIGH WINDS POUNDED SURF AGAINST JAGGED COASTLINE AND WHIPSAWED THE 100-FOOT-TALL TREES ALONG ROYAL PALM WAY—WHAT LOCALS CALL BANKERS’ ROW.

It was just a few days after Donald Trump’s inauguration. A couple of miles down the road, seemingly oblivious to the approaching storm, hundreds of revelers packed Mar-a-Lago, the Great Gatsby–esque private resort Trump has dubbed his “Winter White House,” to fete their new king. The private event, attended by Palm Beach’s billionaires, entrepreneurs and socialites, featured dinner and dancing, a replay of Trump’s swearing-in ceremony and a mammoth ice sculpture of the American lag with “President Trump” emblazoned on the base in red.

In such rarefied circles, it’s not unusual to bump into people who spent their childhoods riding around in limos with their nannies, and, in their retirement years, put of a spouse’s funeral so they could enjoy the last days of what Palm Beachers call “the Season”—roughly four months of epic winter bashes and galas that run from late November to early April every year. When the parties end, Palm Beach island’s population promptly shrinks from 30,000 to 10,000.

Trump’s party occurred at the height of this season, but one of the president’s neighbors, real estate magnate and billionaire Jeff Greene, did not attend. “He’s a very good host. I have to give him credit,” says Greene, who knows Trump casually and is a member of Mar-a-Lago. “But I don’t agree with his politics. I think some of the things he did to get himself elected paved the way for much more dangerous rhetoric in our country.”

“This is kind of the center of the universe now. It’s like the whole world has their eyes on us.”

Greene did not vote for Trump. Nor did the majority of Palm Beach County, but many of its residents are benefiting from his presence. Trump’s ascension has created one of the world’s greatest concentrations of global wealth and power right in their backyard. And that shift could mean a massive change in fortunes, not just for the superrich families who have made their homes in Palm Beach over the past century—the Fords, DuPonts, Rothschilds, Pulitzers and Lauders—but also for the area’s long-overlooked middle class.

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