Donald Trump, Patron of Art

Trump this week, on Confederate monuments:

Trump should know about art that can’t be replaced.

Dust swirled and jackhammers pounded outside the Bonwit Teller building in Manhattan as undocumented immigrants tore apart the façade. It was June 5, 1980, and a sense of bitterness hung over the work site that afternoon; paychecks were often weeks late, but since the Poles didn’t have legal status in the United States, there was little they could do about it.

The exterior they were destroying was an architectural masterpiece–bronze, platinum, hammered aluminum, glazed ceramic and tinted glass that shimmered like jewelry. Many New Yorkers had hoped the grandest portion would survive; curators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art had asked the developer to carefully remove the two bas-relief sculpture panels so they could be restored and put on public display. But that afternoon, the laborers, acting on orders from the developer, smashed the 50-year-old art deco panels into a rubble of stone, pebble and dirt.

The desecration horrified Manhattan’s art community, but the developer, a brash 34-year-old named Donald Trump, dismissed the criticism–pretending to be his own spokesman, “John Barron,” as he talked to reporters by phone. Saving the panels would have cost him $32,000 each, he said, and delayed work for a few days on his $100 million project, Trump Tower. Besides, he declared, he knew more than the curators–the panels had no artistic merit and little financial value.


Trump discovered that taking out the sculptures would delay demolition by two weeks. He wasn’t willing to wait. “On his orders, the demolition workers cut up the grillwork with acetylene torches,”rt wrote. “Then they jackhammered the friezes, dislodged them with crowbars, and pushed the remains inside the building, where they fell to the floor and shattered in a million pieces.”

The art world was shocked. “Architectural sculpture of this quality is rare and would have made definite sense in our collections,” Ashton Hawkins, the vice president and secretary of the Met’s board of trustees, told the New York Times. Robert Miller, a gallery owner who had agreed to assess the friezes, told the paper that “the reliefs are as important as the sculptures on the Rockefeller building. They’ll never be made again.”

The Times reported that Trump also lost a large bronze grillwork, measuring 25 feet in length, from the building that the museum had hoped to save.

So much for irreplaceable art. But we should also be concerned about the promise he made concerning infrastructure.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday rolled back rules regarding environmental reviews and restrictions on government-funded building projects in flood-prone areas as part of his proposal to spend $1 trillion to fix aging U.S. infrastructure.

Trump’s latest executive order would speed approvals of permits for highways, bridges, pipelines and other major building efforts. It revokes an Obama-era executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of climate change.

“It’s going to be quick. It’s going to be a very streamlined process. And by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it – very simple,” Trump said at a press conference at Trump Tower in New York.

Well, unless it costs somebody money or slows down construction by a few days. I mean, who needs spotted owls, right? No artistic merit.

7 thoughts on “Donald Trump, Patron of Art

  1. Trump is a graduate of the Hermann Goering Academy of Fine Arts and Architectural Preservation. (h/t to Geo. Sanders and M. Monroe in “All About Eve”)

  2. Bannon is out. How can a blogger keep up. The man moves from disaster to disaster at lightning speed

  3. t-RUMP doesn’t love Impressionist’s Monet and Manet.

    What he loves and leaves a big impression on him, is MONEY!!!

  4. I remember this act of vandalism and the fact that the Polish workers were treated so badly and I was surprised that so many people who voted for this crass destroyer, didn’t remember this appalling act. If the panels had been covered with gilding, would these have stood a chance?King Midas turned everything that he touched with gold and look where it got him!

  5. rosemary,
    Yeah, I was living in NYC during the late 70’s until the early 90’s, and I remember that one well – as well as his many other fuster-clucks regarding destroying things which were worth a great deal more to humanity than this preening, narcissistic jackass. AND, of course, his abuse of workers and contractors.

  6. My avatar on my laptop is different from the one on my Nook!


    I much prefer the perplexed, bemused, and slightly angry yellow circle, to what looks to me like a squished eyeglass-wearing starfish.

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