U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the press as he departs the White House January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Who Could Have Painted Donald Trump's $60K Portrait?

Technically, it was artist William Quigley, but the project feels Banksy-worthy in terms of scammability alone.

by Emma Specter
Feb 28 2019, 5:02pm

U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions from the press as he departs the White House January 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Congressional testimony of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's ex-lawyer, has proved instructive in more ways than one (remember the dark days before we knew of Matthew Calamari?) Still, one of Cohen's biggest revelations is the news that Trump allegedly used a fake bidder and "$60,000 worth of Trump Foundation money" to pay for—what else?—a portrait of himself.

According to Cohen's testimony in front of the House oversight committee, Trump instructed him to find a "stooge" to purchase the portrait of himself, then pay said stooge back with Trump Foundation money. On Twitter, Trump claimed to be shocked by the sequence of events:

The portrait appears to have been painted by artist William Quigley, an artist who, his website claims, has been commissioned for portraits of everyone from President Clinton to Wayne Gretzky to Ice Cube, but let's put reality aside for a moment and imagine who else might have taken up the assignment had Quigley not risen to the call of presidential duty.

Banksy. Seeing the greatest scammer of all time (comma, art-world) paint the greatest scammer of all time (comma, politics)? Iconique. Roping Banksy into your classic fake-buyer art scheme gives it the hint of absurdity that defines a truly Ocean's-esque caper.

Hans Holbein the Younger. Northern Renaissance painter Hans Holbein—not to be confused with his Gothic-ass father, Hans Holbein the Elder—served as King's Painter to King Henry VIII of England, so he's good at dealing with the capricious demands of the ruling class. No doubt, he'd paint Trump with all the realist corpulence he brought to his royal subject, and his painting of the infant Prince Edward VI proves he possesses the sense of delicacy necessary to capture Barron.

Jennifer Rubell. The woman who gave us Ivanka Vacuuming, and made an enemy out of the First Daughter in the process, might seem like an odd choice to paint Trump, but all she'd have to do is mention her plans for the greatest presidential portrait ever, and she could probably con the president into devoting some "executive time" to sit for her. "Donald Sitting", as he waited, Godot-like, for her to begin painting, would become the darling of the downtown performance-art scene in no time.

Lina Viktor. The 32-year-old artist, whom the Daily Beast called "a painterly mix of singer M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj," creates work using 24-karat gold. How could Trump possibly resist?

Rothko. He got a good start with "Orange and Yellow, 1956," but if only he had lived to plumb the Donald's depths of Miami tangerine.

Michael Jackson's chimp, Bubbles. I'm loath to traumatize the poor animal any further, but wouldn't it be nice to see Bubbles immersed in something more contemporary than those watercolors he's always banging out?

George W. Bush. Oval Office synergy, baby! Now that W. is a bona fide, candy-loving #resistancehero as well as an artist, why not let him paint a giant, photorealistic portrait of Trump with "LIAR!" spelled out in all-caps red letters? That feels like the logical next plot line in this increasingly convoluted Black Mirror episode of an administration.

Donald Trump
Michael Cohen
Jennifer Rubell
hans holbein the younger