October 7, 2022

DEEP GRIFT: Guess who just paid for the official Trump portrait at the Smithsonian?

DEEP GRIFT: Guess who just paid for the official Trump portrait at the Smithsonian?

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A $650,000 “charitable” donation to the Smithsonian from Donald Trump’s Save America PAC will be used to commission portraits of the ex-President and former First Lady, Melania Trump for its National Portrait Gallery.

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Linda St. Thomas, a spokesperson for the museum,  said:

“Two artists have been commissioned, one for each portrait. The names will be released closer to the reveal of the paintings. The creation of the portraits is underway. The timing of the artworks’ reveal not determined yet.”

A Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing on Saturday disclosed the donation that Thomas says will “support the artists’ fees, shipping framing, installation, and events.”

Open every day but Christmas, the National Portrait Gallery features official portraits of all U.S. Presidents and is funded by private donations raised by the Smithsonian.

The unattributed donation, reportedly from an unidentified family, is helping with the cost of the portraits.

The use of money from Trump’s Save America PAC to pay for portraits of the Trumps may not sit well with the small-dollar donors who may have thought that their cash was going to pay for election support or legal defenses for the highly-indictable former president.

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This isn’t the first time that Trump has figured out a way to get other people to pay for his portrait.

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He used $60,000 of money from his now-defunct charitable organization the Trump Foundation to have a straw bidder buy a portrait of him at a Hamptons art auction in 2013. He also spent another $10,000 of the Foundation’s money to purchase a different portrait at a Mar-a-Lago charity auction in 2014.

Established by Congress in 1962, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery opened to the public six years later, with portraits of former Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, and John F. Kennedy already in the collection – those of Jimmy Carter, James Monroe, and John Adams were added in the ’70s. The Smithsonian began commissioning presidential portraits starting with the #41st President, George H.W. Bush.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first First Lady added to the exhibit.

Portraits of former President Barack Obama, by Kehinde Wiley, and former First Lady Michelle Obama – by Amy Sherald – brought millions of visitors to the museum in the year they were unveiled. Breaking previous attendance records, the unveiling of the portraits of one of the most popular First Couples in U.S. history added nearly a million more visitors to the National Portrait Gallery than the previous year.

Over half a million dollars was raised to commission the Obamas’ portraits – including monetary donations from celebrities like Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw.

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Long-time volunteers  Mary Francis Koerner of Kingstowne, VA, and Carlyn Kulik of Bethesda, MD said “they have never seen new works have such an impact,” something gallery director Kim Sate calls “the Obama effect,The Washington Post reported.

The effect portraits of the disgraced ex-President Trump and his former First Lady will have on museum attendees remains to be seen. For now, a photograph taken by photographer Pari Dukovic appears in the online gallery. For a narcissist like Trump – and someone obsessed with ratings, numbers, and besting his White House predecessor– it will be curious to see what wild tales he spins once his and Melania’s portraits are unveiled.

Being that Trump currently displays fake Time magazine covers over himself at his golf clubs, I imagine if his visitor number doesn’t come close to those of Obama’s, he’ll simply blame the Deep State – or just lie as usual.

Original reporting by Dan Levinthal at Business Insider.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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