When a painting of Donald Trump came up for auction in 2013, the now-president wanted to be sure his portrait fetched the highest bid of the night, according to his former attorney Michael Cohen.
So Trump dispatched Cohen to find a straw bidder — someone who would purchase the painting at the auction and Trump would later reimburse — but the president didn’t pay back the bidder from his personal account, Cohen said.
Trump used money from his charitable foundation to repay the cost.
How much did his foundation shell out? $60,000, and the painting reportedly now hangs in one of Trump’s country clubs.
The Hill noted that Cohen would offer this story during his prepared remarks before Congress on Wednesday, and the president’s former fixer did include the anecdote during his opening statement.
“Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned at an Art Hamptons Event,” Cohen told the House Oversight Committee during a public hearing. “The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon.”
After the bidder paid $60,000 for the painting, Cohen said, “Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.”
Trump then boasted on Twitter that his portrait had brought in the highest amount, tweeting: “Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K.”
Two other portraits of Trump allegedly were purchased with the foundation’s money as well, according to The Hill: “the Trump Foundation, paid $10,000 for an oil portrait of Trump at a 2014 auction after no other bids were made on it. It was also reported in 2016 that Trump used $20,000 of his charity foundation’s funds to buy a painting in 2007.”