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A thick veil of mystery swaths the Donald J. Trump Foundation and its many transactions, but a recent investigation has determined that its wispy-haired founder once spent $20,000 of his charity’s money to purchase a portrait for his own keeping. As reported by the Washington Post‘s David A. Fahrenthold, the painting depicts none other than Trump himself and stands at a whopping six feet tall. The revelation is part of the Post‘s big examination of the foundation’s troubling money-handling habits, including dives into its tax filings and interviews with over 200 parties listed as donors or beneficiaries. In addition to the painting, the Trump Foundation paid $12,000 for an autographed football helmet for the Republican presidential nominee’s personal gain.
The painting purchase, at a 2007 charity auction held at Mar-a-Lago, was as spontaneous as you could get: the artwork didn’t even exist until minutes before bids were taken, emerging as one of the night’s many creations by self-proclaimed “original speed painter” Michael Israel. To raise money for a children’s charity, Israel also painted portraits of John Lennon, Einstein, and other famous figures. When he finished his rendition of Trump, it was Melania who made the financial move on her husband’s portrait, with a starting bid of $10,000.
“She was actually very gracious when she started bidding, and everyone else stopped,” Israel told Hyperallergic. “The auctioneer called it to her attention that no one was bidding against her and said she should double the bid, and she did.”
Israel describes his method of painting as a performance: his act — typically booked for charities or corporate events — consists of rapidly daubing paint on canvas with both hands, at times even spinning the work around while brandishing brushes. Sessions are lively, often augmented by flashing lights and hit songs — here he is painting along to “Born to Run” before a screaming audience. The often streaky results, according to Israel, typically fetch between thousands of dollars to as high as a quarter million.
While tax filings record Trump’s illicit use of his foundation’s money, the painting’s whereabouts are unknown. Israel told the Post he believes it “went to one of [Trump’s] golf courses”; he retains no accessible photographic evidence of it, as any pictures he took “are stored on a computer that stopped functioning years ago,” he told Hyperallergic.
“It looks like Donald Trump,” he said simply about his work, which depicts only the face of the businessman–turned–TV personality–turned–politician. Completed in mere minutes, Israel’s portrait was made under vastly different circumstances than those of “The Entrepreneur,” a full-bodied image of the Donald by Ralph Wolfe Cowan, commissioned at $24,000. In that work, Cowan deliberately left one of his subject’s hands unpainted, which caused Trump to chase the artist for 15 years to “finish.”
If you happen to have an image of Israel’s six-foot-tall painting of Trump or know where it resides, drop us a line.
Update, 9/21: Univision news anchor Enrique Acevedo has found the painting on the wall of Trump’s resort:
— Enrique Acevedo (@Enrique_Acevedo) September 21, 2016
Editor’s Note: This endorsement is part of a special edition that Hyperallergic published on the ongoing legal case to return the photos of Renty and Delia Taylor to their descendants. * * * Your Honour — On April 11, 2018, The New York Times published a report on the differential outcomes for maternal and infant…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…