Ivana Trump, former US president’s first wife, dies aged 73

Ivana Trump, the first wife of Donald Trump, passed away at her home in New York City, the former president says.

Former US President Donald Trump’s first wife and the mother of his three eldest children, Ivana Trump, has died at age 73, her family and ex-husband said.

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” Donald Trump said in a post on the social media platform Truth Social on Thursday.

The couple married in 1977 and divorced in 1992. They had three children together: Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric.

In a separate statement, the family praised Ivana as “an incredible woman – a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty, and caring mother and friend”.

“Ivana Trump was a survivor. She fled from communism and embraced this country. She taught her children about grit and toughness, compassion and determination,” the family said. She was born Ivana Zelnickova in 1949 in the city of Gottwaldov in the former Czechoslovakia.

Ivana Trump
Ivana Trump was born and grew up in the former Czechoslovakia [File: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Photo]

“She will be dearly missed by her mother, her three children and ten grandchildren,” the family said.

Neither the Trump family statement nor the post from the former president mentioned the cause of her death.

A former model who once trained for the Czechoslovakian junior national ski team, Ivana Trump played a role in building up the Trump media image in the 1980s, when they were one of New York City’s most prominent power couples.

Their divorce, which came after Donald Trump’s highly publicised affair with Marla Maples, whom he later married, was fodder for the New York tabloids.

While Donald Trump took the credit for his early success breaking into the highly competitive Manhattan real estate market, Ivana Trump played an important role in building the family business soon after their marriage, The New York Times reported.

She worked alongside her husband in developing Trump Tower, his signature building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and other high-profile projects such as the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the newspaper said.

Ivana Trump was the vice president for interior design for the Trump Organization and managed the historic Plaza Hotel, which Trump acquired in 1988.

Donald Trump and ex-wife Ivana Trump
Donald Trump and his ex-wife Ivana Trump during the men’s final at the US Open, September 7, 1997 [File: Mike Blake/Reuters]

In recent years, Ivana Trump had been on good terms with her former husband. She wrote in a 2017 book that they spoke about once a week.

Ivana told the New York Post in 2016 that she was both a supporter and adviser to the former president. “I suggest a few things,” she told the newspaper. “We speak before and after the appearances and he asks me what I thought.” She said she advised him to “be more calm”.

“But Donald cannot be calm,” she added. “He’s very outspoken. He just says it as it is.”

In his post on Thursday, Donald Trump praised her as “a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life”.

“Her pride and joy were her three children, Donald Jr, Ivanka, and Eric. She was so proud of them, as we were all so proud of her. Rest In Peace, Ivana!”