Thursday, August 17, 2017

Donald Trump, Art Lover

Defender-of-Nazis Donald J. Trump took to Twitter this morning to defend Confederate statues again, typing a string of tweets with an unexpected and completely out-of-character lesson in art history and the appreciation of beauty.
August 17, 2017
June 6, 1980
The first time that Donald Trump's name was linked to beautiful statuary in the news was back on June 6, 1980 when an article about Bonwit Teller on the first page of The New York Times ran with the headline, "Developer Scraps Bonwit Sculptures." Trump's name itself didn't appear until the sixth paragraph about the landmark Fifth Avenue department store that was being razed to make room for a "$100 million 62-story bronze-colored glass tower of apartments, offices, and stores" that we now know by its shorthand name, Trump Tower. Trump had promised the Metropolitan Museum of Art that he would donate two 15-foot-tall Art Deco bas-relief panels by Rene Paul Chambellan if the cost of removing them was not "prohibitive." In the next paragraph, Trump's fictional "vice president of the Trump Organization John Baron" explained, in a voice that sounded very much like Donald Trump's, "the merit of these stones was not great enough to justify the effort to save them." Even though the Met was anxious to add these pieces to their collection and the appraiser consulted by the Times valued them at "several hundred thousand dollars," the unnamed three independent appraisers that "John Baron" cited had valued them at "worth less than $9,000 in resale value" and not worth his estimated $32,000 cost of removal. So the Trump Organization removed the sculptures with jackhammers instead. The Met was interested in acquiring the decorative metal grillwork above the main entrance as well; Trump sold it for its scrap value.

Would Donald Trump or his spokesman "John Baron" have taken more care if the sculptures depicted Robert E. Lee or Nathan Bedford Forrest in "beautiful" equestrian poses?

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