Seeking a new home: two giant portraits of Donald Trump, gently used.
The state of New York is forcing the president to shut down the Trump Foundation after an investigation alleged that Trump used donor money to his own benefit, and the president will now have to split up the remaining assets and give them to other charities. As USA Today noted, that includes a pair of attention-grabbing purchases — two portraits of Donald Trump, originally purchased for $30,000, but valued in the latest IRS filings at $975.
The portraits of Trump became a focal point in reports which claimed that Trump used his charity as a personal bank account, using it to pay legal fees and to make improvements at his properties — and it was not the only time he reportedly used the foundation’s money for personal purchases. In a 2016 investigation, the Washington Post reported that Trump had bought a Denver Broncos helmet signed by Tim Tebow at a charity auction benefiting the Susan G. Komen organization. But when it came time to pay, Trump spent the money from his foundation instead. The organization confirmed that Trump never made a personal donation.
Experts said this constituted an illegal donation, meant to benefit Donald Trump — and not the charity itself.
“That would be a classic violation of the prohibition on a charity being operated for the private inurement (benefit) of the charity’s creator,” Brett G. Kappel, an expert on tax-exempt organizations at the Akerman law firm in Washington, told the Washington Post.
The same pattern was repeated with the portrait of himself. It was created by “speed painter” Michael Israel at a charity event in West Palm Beach, and went to auction. Melania Trump won it with a bid of $10,000, but the auctioneer convinced her to double the offer. But when the $20,000 check came in, it was from the Trump Foundation rather than from Trump’s own checkbook.
The Trump Foundation will be required to sell its remaining assets and donate the proceeds.
That includes a Tim Tebow-signed Broncos helmet, bought for $12,000, and two portraits of Trump, bought for $30,000 Trump now values the items at a combined $975. https://t.co/0vLmESnaWl
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 19, 2018
Donald Trump later bought a second portrait of himself at another auction, this time paying $10,000. Non-profit legal experts said that in order to comply with laws regarding charitable donations, Trump would have needed to give away the portrait — or use it to benefit his own charity in some way. But the portrait was later found hanging on the wall of a sports bar at Trump’s Doral golf resort.
It was not clear yet where the giant portraits of Donald Trump would be headed — or the Tim Tebow signed helmet, for that matter.