Ivana Trump is a former model and wife of Donald Trump who was born in Gottwaldov (now Zlín), Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), in 1949. She and Trump were part of New York City’s social elite during the 1980s. The two split in 1990 and Ivana won a $20 million divorce settlement. She later published The Best Is Yet to Come: Coping With Divorce and Enjoying Life Again. In it, she advised divorcees to “take his wallet to the cleaners.”
Ivana Zelníčková was born on February 20, 1949 in the Moravian town of Zlín (formerly known as Gottwaldov), Czechoslovakia, the daughter of Miloš Zelníček (1927–1990) and Marie Zelníčková (née Francová). From the age of 13, her father nurtured and encouraged her skiing talent. In the early 1970s, she attended Charles University in Prague.
According to Trump, she was selected as an alternate on the Czechoslovak ski team during the 1972 Winter Olympics, her specialties being the downhill and slalom. Czechoslovakia did not send an alpine squad to the 1972 Winter Olympics. In 1989, Petr Pomezný, Secretary General of the Czechoslovak Olympic Committee, said, “Who is this Ivana woman, and why do people keep calling us about her? We have searched so many times and have consulted many, many people, and there is no such girl in our records.”
In 1971, Zelníčková married Austrian ski instructor Alfred Winklmayr to obtain Austrian citizenship to be able to leave Communist Czechoslovakia without defecting and being therefore unable to return to visit her parents. She received her Austrian passport in March 1972 and, as Ivana Winklmayr, in 1973 obtained an absentee divorce from Alfred Winklmayr in Los Angeles, California, where he had moved to teach skiing. After her then boyfriend George (Jiři) Staidl was killed in a car accident in 1973, Ivana moved to Canada where she lived with George (Jiři) Syrovatka whom she had dated since 1967; he had defected to Canada in 1971 and owned a ski boutique in Montreal. For the following two years, she lived in Montreal, improved her English by taking night courses at McGill University, and worked as a model. Her modeling jobs included promoting the 1976 Summer Olympics that were being hosted in Montreal.
Ivana and Donald Trump, 1985
In this capacity Ivana was in New York City with a group of models in 1976 where she met Donald Trump. Donald Trump and Ivana M. Winklmayr were married in 1977 in a lavish wedding officiated by Norman Vincent Peale. Donald and Ivana Trump became leading figures in New York society during the 1980s. They worked on several large projects, including the renovation of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, construction of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
They had three children: Donald Trump Jr. (born December 31, 1977), Ivanka Trump (born October 30, 1981), and Eric Trump (born January 6, 1984). Donald Jr. learned to speak fluent Czech (with help of his maternal grandfather), while daughter Ivanka has only basic understanding of her mother’s native tongue and Eric was not exposed to the language because at the time of his birth his grandparents were already comfortable enough in using English. Ivana has nine grandchildren.
Ivana took a major role in The Trump Organization. She became the Vice President of Interior Design for the company, leading the signature design of Trump Tower. Afterwards, her then-husband appointed her to head up the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino as president. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988.
In October 1990, Ivana Trump’s 63-year-old father died suddenly from a heart attack. According to The Guardian, her father – Miloš Zelníček – was an informer for Czechoslovakia’s Státní bezpečnost (StB) intelligence service and relayed information from Ivana Trump, including a prediction that George HW Bush would win the 1988 presidential election. Ivana stood side-by-side with her husband Donald at the funeral in Zlín. Jaroslav Jansa, codename “Jarda” and secret collaborator to the StB also attended the funeral. That Christmas, when the family was on vacation in Aspen, Colorado, Ivana Trump encountered Marla Maples who would later become Donald’s second wife.
The Trumps’ divorce proceedings appeared on New York tabloid newspapers’ covers for 11 days in a row, and Liz Smith wrote about nothing else for three months. In a deposition relating to their divorce, she accused Donald J. Trump of rape and of pulling out handfuls of her hair. In Harry Hurt III’s book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, Ivana Trump confirmed that she had “felt violated”. However, in a statement provided by Donald J. Trump and his lawyers, Ivana Trump stated that she did use the word “rape”, but that she did not “want [her] words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.” Their divorce was granted in 1990 on the grounds of “[c]ruel and inhuman treatment by Mr. Trump”. A condition of settlement was that she not talk about their marriage without his permission.
In 1995, she married Riccardo Mazzucchelli. She filed a $15 million breach of contract suit against Mazzucchelli for violating the confidentiality clause in their prenuptial agreement. In 1997, Mazzucchelli sued Ivana and Donald for libel.
In the summer of 1997, she began dating Roffredo Gaetani; that continued until his death in 2005.
In April 2008, Ivana, then 59, married Rossano Rubicondi, then 36. The $3 million wedding for 400 guests was hosted by ex-husband Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Daughter Ivanka Trump was her maid of honor. On December 1, 2008, Ivana confirmed to the Associated Press that she had filed a legal separation agreement three months previously; she has stated in interviews that she and her husband have an on-again/off-again relationship. In December 2009, she said she had filed for divorce from Rubicondi; the couple has continued to be seen together as recently as May 5, 2018.