April 08, 1991 12:00 PM

“I’m not sure if I’m going to live to survive it!”

So confessed Ivana Trump, glistening in turquoise leotard and tights poolside at Mar-a-Lago, the 118-room retreat in Palm Beach that her husband picked up in 1985 for a mere $10 million. But this time, she wasn’t referring to her much-publicized marital strife. Just hours after her divorce settlement from real estate titan Donald Trump was finalized on March 22, Ivana was playing host at her annual girls-only slumber party—and all she had to fear was aerobics. “I am young and healthy,” said the onetime model and ski instructor. “I have three beautiful children. I am financially secure. And I am free at last.”

Ditto from The Donald. “It’s over, it’s settled, and I’m very happy,” he says. “My lawyers totally prevailed.” As the dust finally settled in the Trumps’ yearlong financial battle, Donald gave Ivana a certified check for $10 million, and a guarantee of $4 million more when she vacates the couple’s Fifth Avenue triplex. She also got the family’s $12 million Connecticut mansion, a new East Side apartment and the use of Mar-a-Lago every March. (Ivana retains custody of the couple’s children. Donald Jr., 13, Ivanka, 9, and Eric, 7; Trump has generous visitation rights.)

All in all, a sizable agreement—though a far cry from the stakes cited last March, when Ivana maintained she was entitled to half of Trump’s estimated $5 billion in assets. That demand was rendered moot last June, when Trump applied for a massive $65 million bailout loan and came close to declaring bankruptcy. According to one source close to both Trumps, the divorce battle “was an exercise in futility [for Ivana]. She could have gotten the same deal a year ago. [Instead] she lost $1 million in interest and $1 million in legal fees. But people don’t always fight over what they say they’re fighting over.”

Syndicated columnist Liz Smith, an Ivana intimate, concurs. “Ivana could have signed the same deal she ended up with right at the beginning and saved herself a lot of trouble,” Smith says. “But she was emotionally upset.”

Yet as news of their settlement reverberated from Manhattan to Mar-a-Lago, both sides were wont to talk like winners. “The matrimony and acrimony have ended,” says Ivana’s lawyer, Michael Kennedy. “Although Ivana wishes Mr. Trump well in his current struggles, she takes comfort in knowing that her financial security is no longer dependent on the vagaries of his commercial endeavors.”

Vagaries? “Hey, how many people can write a check for $10 million?” counters Donald. “I’m better off than most.”

Despite his shifting fortunes, he has not lost the affection of the famed Other Woman, former beauty queen and occasional model Maria Maples. The very weekend that Ivana was munching celery stalks at Mar-a-Lago, the couple showed up at Wrestlemania 7 in Los Angeles, where Maria, in a beaded white minidress, co-hosted the event, and rang the timer’s bell for a match headlined by Hulk Hogan. For her part, Ivana is launching her own perfume line and will soon take to the lecture circuit. For the time being, at least, she will also continue her duties as president of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.

One thing is a sure bet, says a friend: Even after two failed marriages (her first, brief union to real estate agent Alfred Winklmayr, ended in 1973), Ivana will walk down that aisle yet again. “She’s the marryin’ kind,” says Houston socialite Joan Schnitzer, a guest at the Mar-a-Lago massage-in. “But I think she’ll kiss a lotta toads before she finds her handsome prince.”

Susan Schindehette, Sue Carswell in New York City

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