Since 1933, Pierre-August Renoir’s painting, “Two Sisters (On the Terrace)” has hung in the Art Institute of Chicago, which has owned the portrait all this time. But is it a fake? Or did Renoir paint more than one version? In Donald Trump’s mystifying mind, one of these scenarios is true. Along with giving to charity, drawing large crowds, and having a lot of great plans, Trump has reportedly also bragged about owning the original “Two Sisters (On the Terrace).” And like many of his boasts, it’s one he seems to like to bring up whenever he gets the chance.
This clear lie comes to light in a recent episode of Vanity Fair‘s “Inside the Hive” podcast, in which Trump biographer Tim O’Brien shares an anecdote from a few years ago, in a brighter, pre-Trump era. The pair was riding in Trump’s private jet, where a copy of the famous Renoir was hanging, and the men ended up arguing over whether or not it was original.
“Donald, it’s not,” O’Brien insisted, multiple times. “I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called ‘Two Sisters on the Terrace,’ and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago.”
After some back-and-forth with the real estate mogul, he chose to drop the conversation and carry on with more important business. Trump, however, being Trump, did not give up. The next day, back on the plane with his biographer, he gestured at the painting and said, “You know, that’s an original Renoir.” O’Brien decided to not engage.
The Renoir eventually found a home at Trump Tower in New York after Trump sold his jet for, of course, a bigger one. Cameras caught a glimpse of it during an interview Trump gave on “60 Minutes” after winning the 2016 election. The colors add a hint of softness to an otherwise gold-gilded and marble-clad room.
“I’m sure he’s still telling people who come into the apartment, ‘It’s an original, it’s an original,’” O’Brien told Vanity Fair‘s Nick Bilton on the podcast. “He believes his own lies in a way that lasts for decades. He’ll tell the same stories time and time again, regardless of whether or not facts are right in front of his face.”
And the facts really would be in front of his face if the President visited the Art Institute of Chicago. The Chicago Tribune even reached out to the museum to clarify that it owns the genuine Renoir — because we’re in an age where we have to go there — and spokeswoman Amanda Hicks noted that the institute is “satisfied that our version is real.” The museum has owned the painting since 1933 when it was bequeathed by philanthropist Annie Swan Coburn upon her death the prior year. She had purchased it in 1925 from art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who bought it straight from the Impressionist in 1881, for 1,500 francs. The White House did not respond to the Tribune‘s questions about the provenance of Trump’s “Renoir.”
At least we can confirm that Trump is clearly not in the “Renoir is ‘Aesthetic Terrorism‘” camp.
Also, there’s this small detail:
Makes sense that Trump would cut the edges off Renoir’s Two Sisters to make it fit a Hobby Lobby frame.
Custom frames are crazy expensive. pic.twitter.com/KzNwsUzRKO
— Ryan Adams 🎞️🏳️🌈 (@filmystic) October 16, 2017