Riposte | Donald Trump & the Art of the Deal

Each fortnight, HeadStuff brings an unadulterated critique of the global art scene. Click here for more. 

He’s had careers in real estate, reality TV, politics, and now art. A drawing of the Manhattan skyline by President Donald Trump sold at auction for $29,184 last month. The drawing, a rough sketch of skyscrapers and the Hudson river, exceeded the auctioneers interests.

According to Los Angeles-based auction house Nate D. Sanders, the work was created by the president for a charity auction promoting worldwide literacy in 2005. It was consigned to the auction house by the winner of the original charity event.

The sketch is drawn on a large envelope made of a stock type of paper, and according to Michael Kirk of Nate D. Sanders auctioneers, there are only two other known variants of the drawing making it an extremely rare example of presidential memorabilia. There were 11 bids for the drawing, starting at $9,000. “It’s a piece of art from a U.S. President, so it’s attracted interest from not just Trump followers, but also presidential memorabilia collectors.”

In October, a painting of the Empire State Building will go under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions with an estimate of $8,000–$12,000. Given the augmented price for the previous drawing, one can presume bids will push this figure much higher.

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George W. Bush paints his Portraits of Courage

President Trump is not the first POTUS to dabble in art; George W. Bush, following an embarrassing hack into personal email accounts was outed as an aspiring painter. This year, he published a book entitled ‘Portraits of Courage’ focusing on the aftermaths of 9/11. The book topped bestseller lists worldwide. The original paintings Bush vows never to sell during his lifetime, but will be donated to his foundation after his death.


Hotels, universities, television, vodka, and now art- is there anything President Trump can’t do??? And a wee sharpie sketch that fetches close to $30,000! If that isn’t validation of talent, I don’t know what is. Normally when you fail to see the validation of an extortionate price at auction, there’s usually some reputation behind it. But perhaps pitching Donny against modern masterpiece heavyweights is a bit unfair, presuming that he would have notified the #FAKENEWS had he won a Turner Prize.

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Illma Gore | Make America Great Again

I think it’s also safe to presume that that price doesn’t come from artistic merit. The ‘impressionistic’ New York skyline seems to be missing a few key features… The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Rockefeller Center, loads of others- I don’t know, I’ve never actually been to New York. Given that POTUS grew up there you’d think he’d have an inkling of some distinctive feature. Perhaps he was too busy firing people or soberly tweeting to peek out a Trump Tower window. Speaking of said tower, it is the only distinctive ‘building’ in the drawing that bears anything close to a resemblance of the New York skyline. You may not recognise it- most people leave it out of since it has as much artistic merit as something else that bears its name… One must thus glean this questionable artwork is a representation of how the President sees the world: he has no eyes for any other building in the city; he has no eyes for anything but himself. New York City is trumped by Trump. Indeed, the only merit this picture has it that it accurately represents Trump’s bloated sense of self.

The saddest part of this whole debacle is that it only encourages an ego to grow. Trump has already proved naysayers wrong, that since, in his opinion, he is a great businessman thus he will be a great president; Since he is a great businessman, he will be a great artist. That there is actually an interest at these auctions, singularly for memorabilia, only deepens the problem. BAD.

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Illma Gore | The Myth of Covfefe

Michael W. Lanigan contributed to this article.


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