Stanley I Chera’s death on Saturday was reported by The Real Deal, which covers the New York real estate industry. The Associated Press confirmed Mr Chera’s identity and ties to the president with the White House.
Mr Trump first spoke about his friend, who had donated to his campaign, on 29 March.
He said: “I had a friend who went to a hospital the other day. He’s a little older, and he’s heavy, but he’s tough person. And he went to the hospital, and a day later, he’s in a coma … he’s not doing well.
“The speed and the viciousness, especially if it gets the right person, it’s horrible. It’s really horrible.”
At another White House briefing the president alluded to more than one friend who had contracted Covid-19.
He said: “I have some friends that are unbelievably sick.
“We thought they were going in for a mild stay. And, in one case, he’s unconscious — in a coma. And you say, ‘How did that happen?”‘
Asked at a later briefing, on 1 April, whether knowing people directly affected by the pandemic, which has now killed more than 20,000 Americans, had helped change his thinking on the seriousness of the outbreak, Mr Trump it had not because he had been seeing the statistics and the rising case numbers.
“He’s sort of central casting for what we’re talking about, and it hit him very hard. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Last year the president mentioned Mr Chera at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, describing him as “one of the biggest builders and real estate people in the world”.
“He’s a great guy, and he’s been with me from the beginning.”
The Real Deal said: “Chera’s savvy and willingness to chase big-ticket deals elevated him and Crown into the city’s retail pantheon.”
It quoted Steve Witkoff, a New York real estate investor and developer, saying: “Stanley loved the chase.
“He knew what the trend lines looked like before anybody else does. It’s not dissimilar from being a great hedge fund manager – someone who can see through a particular environment, a particular marketplace, and see how a customer is going to buy.”
Chera was born in Brooklyn in 1942. The firm he founded, Crown Acquisitions, is run by his sons Isaac and Richard, while another son, Stanley, is head of retail at Vornado.
The Associated Press contributed to this report