Michael Israel Art Studios Statement
The Washington Post recently revealed that the Donald J. Trump Foundation had spent $20,000 on a 6-foot-tall portrait of Donald Trump (along with $12,000 for a signed Tim Tebow football helmet), items that if not used for charitable purposes may violate federal tax law. The portrait in particular raised some eyebrows, and some questions, and even made it into President Obama’s pitch for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday:
Obama: “[Trump] took money other people gave to his charity, and then bought a 6-foot-tall painting of himself!” https://t.co/bzHk9ysDqu
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) September 14, 2016
On Wednesday night, The Post’s David A. Fahrenthold had an update on the portrait — including who painted it, who bid $20,000 for it, and maybe even where it is now. The short version is that a Florida charity called Children’s Place at Home Safe held a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in November 2007, featuring speed-painter Michael Israel, who painted portraits of Trump, golfer Paula Creamer, John Lennon, and a firefighter; auctioneer David Schall then auctioned them off.
Melania Trump and Creamer were bidding on the Trump portrait, and Creamer dropped out when the price got to $10,000; Schall convinced Melania Trump to bid against herself, “and there we were at $20,000,” he told The Post. “Big round of applause, and everybody was excited.” Melania instructed Israel assistant Jody Young to send the painting to the Trump National Golf Club Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York — where Fahrenthold says he suspects it may still be (the club turned away a Post reporter).
In the end, the charity and Israel each got $10,000 of the money the Trump Foundation paid for the painting (2007 was the last year Trump put any of his own money into his foundation, according to tax records). That’s a tidy sum for art and charity, but “it really wasn’t a lot,” Schall told The Post, recalling that an Israel portrait of Warren Buffett sold for more than $100,000. Things get dicy with the payment coming from the Trump Foundation, and you can read more about the legalities, and the details, at The Washington Post. Peter Weber