Donald Trump stole art pieces from the ambassador’s residence in France

President Trump holds a Press Briefing

Last Thursday, the Atlantic broke the story about how Donald Trump thinks all soldiers, veterans and POWs are suckers and losers. In Trump’s mind, anyone who serves their country in uniform is a loser and a dummy because if they were smart, they would go into business and make money. That’s the crux of Trump’s worldview. Very little of the Atlantic’s story was actually breaking news – for years, we’ve heard stories about Trump disrespect for the men and women who serve, but the Atlantic had new quotes and stories, of course.

One of those stories was about Trump’s trip to France in November 2018. French President Macron had organized a big event with many world leaders around the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice, and there was a huge memorial scheduled at the cemetery for the Marines at the Battle of Belleau Wood. Trump refused to go, because it was raining and because he doesn’t see the point in honoring the men who sacrificed their lives in war. So what did Trump do instead? He sat around the American ambassador’s residence in Paris and picked out which art pieces he wanted to bring back to the White House. Seriously.

After Donald Trump’s planned trip to a French cemetery for fallen Marines was canceled in November 2018, the U.S. leader had some extra time on his hands in a mansion filled with artwork. The next day, he went art shopping — or the presidential equivalent. Trump fancied several of the pieces in the U.S. ambassador’s historic residence in Paris, where he was staying, and on a whim had them removed and loaded onto Air Force One, according to people familiar with the matter. The works — a portrait, a bust, and a set of silver figurines — were brought back to the White House.

The decision to cancel Trump’s visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery outside Paris is under new scrutiny after the Atlantic magazine on Thursday published a bombshell report that Trump belittled the American servicemen buried there, part of a broader history of disparaging certain people who’ve served in the military. Trump has vehemently denied making the comments about “suckers” and “losers” in the armed forces.

Never previously reported is Trump’s spur-of-the-moment art caper before leaving the ambassador’s residence. The incident was met with a mixture of amusement and astonishment at the time, but caused headaches for White House and State Department staffers, according to several people familiar with the episode who asked not to be identified due to its sensitivity.

The story unfolded like this: While in Paris with other world leaders to commemorate the centennial of the end of World War I, Trump stayed at the official residence of U.S. Ambassador Jamie McCourt, the palatial Hôtel de Pontalba. The mansion, in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement, dates to 1842. It has served as a flagship of the State Department’s “Art in Embassies” cultural diplomacy program, and is open to tours.

The president’s planned visit to the Belleau Wood cemetery was canceled when rainy weather grounded the presidential helicopter, according to a redacted email the White House released to rebut the Atlantic story. The U.S. Secret Service ruled out a motorcade for the 56-mile drive, according to two people familiar with the matter. That left Trump with about six hours of free time in the ambassador’s residence.

The next day, Trump pointed out a Benjamin Franklin bust, a Franklin portrait and a set of figurines of Greek mythical characters, and insisted the pieces come back with him to Washington. McCourt, the ambassador, was startled, but didn’t object, according to people briefed on the incident. Trump later quipped that the envoy would get the art back “in six years,” when his potential second term in office would be winding down.

[From Bloomberg]

This caused “some hair-pulling and a furious exchange of emails back home between the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations and White House officials who organized the art transfer” and as of this year, the art pieces Trump heisted from the ambassador’s residence are still in the White House. But because Trump made such a big deal about stealing them, the objects he selected were looked at more closely by art experts and authenticators, and it turns out that the artwork originally thought to be worth close to $750K is probably not worth anywhere close to that. The Luigi Avolio figurines were made in the 20th century and the Franklin bust was a mere replica, as was the Franklin portrait. This story is insane. We literally have a “president” who steals shiny objects from ambassadors’ residences/embassies.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, First Lady Brigitte Macron at the reception for the G7 summit in Biarritz

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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66 Responses to “Donald Trump stole art pieces from the ambassador’s residence in France”

  1. Feedmechips says:

    OF COURSE HE DID

    • LaraK says:

      I am shocked. Shocked!
      Well, not that shocked.

      Surprised he didn’t steal fixtures. Probably because they weren’t tacky and gold.

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      My FAVORITE take-away, when I read this yesterday, was that these were FAKES!! He thought he’d be taking original art…and it’s all just as fake as he/his money is! 😄 😄 😄

    • clomo says:

      I have never wished for somebody to die until Trump, it’s that bad. I will leave here if he wins again, if I can even get out of here. I miss Obama soooooooo much. At this point I even miss Dick effing Chaney and the Bushes, Lord help me.

  2. whateveryousay says:

    Look, I can’t even get upset anymore. I just go of course and make sure I am sanitized up to go vote in VA this November.

  3. Sierra says:

    Lol and the French knew he would steal and had fake ones on display 😂

    The Atlantic owner confirmed that more damaging stuff about Trump will come out soon. I think they have actual videos probably him spitting/peeing on a soldier’s grave or something.

    • Jerusha says:

      Sooner or later that Golden Shower tape is gonna emerge.

    • Kelly says:

      That’s what I thought when I read the headline-he probably picked out the shiniest, but not the most valuable pieces. Gross either way, but the man has zero taste.

    • Christin says:

      The health questions and steady stream of terrible behavior stories will likely become a gusher within the next few weeks.

      He’s the Hillary in this race, except there seem to be plenty of receipts.

      It’s now or never to reveal what’s behind the curtain (as if most of us don’t already realize it). If re-elected, I have no doubt an enemies list will be acted upon.

      • Poisonella says:

        I think it was over for Trump when he said don’t buy Goodyear products. The minute he said it, things began to turn against him. The military – the guys with Power don’t like him; they’re the only thing we have between Trump and a dictatorship. I was reading his tweets today, and the guy is completely unhinged.

  4. Marjorie says:

    The thieving grifter is having his chickens come home to roost. You know those tchotchkes were destined to be pocketed and “rehomed” to Bedminster or Palm Beach.

  5. Léna says:

    He could shot one of his kids in the WH lawn and still be given a pass. What do you expect at this point

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      Actually, it’s more like he could shoot an amputee veteran on the White House lawn in front of live cameras, and repugs would still vote for him because “they support the troops.” Seriously, I saw a FB post the other day with a long list of reasons why people say they’re voting for Trump (e.g. supporting troops)… except Trump has proven time and again that he is the complete antithesis of those things.

      • Jerusha says:

        Here’s my situation-I have three sisters, plus their spouses, plus their children and their spouses, two sisters-in-law and their spouses, plus their children and their spouses, beaucoup first cousins and their spouses, plus their children and their spouses, and they’re all hardcore trumpers. Everytime some right wing rag denies the truth, they’re like, “See, see!”
        Only my daughter, my grandson and I have IQs above that of a baked potato when it comes to trump. Makes. Me. Sick.

    • pottymouth pup says:

      well, in all fairness, if the aforementioned one of his kids was either Ivanka or Junior, I’d give him a pass too

    • PixiePaperdroll says:

      If it was Jr or Nagini, I’d be fine with that.

  6. emmy says:

    Yeah, that tracks. I’m mostly interested in the fact that those pieces suddenly weren’t that valuable? I honestly never trust museums anymore since a friend whose uncle works in the Louvre told me that sometimes the Mona Lisa is a fake because they need to study or clean the original. It makes sense but man, imagine all those people from all over the world viewing a fake.

    Anyway. Dude’s like a child with colorful objects. It’s really the least of our worries though.

    • Lightpurple says:

      One or two of the pieces were replicas of work that the Smithsonian or the White House actually have back in Washington.

    • Kiera says:

      A friend of mine whose worked at several auction homes has told me that there is a forger who has been active for quite some time and is excellent. They know/highly suspect he has forged pieces that have gone to auction but they can’t ever prove it and he said some of the suspected pieces are in museum collections.

      • Jensies says:

        @Kiera I’m fascinated! Anything more you can add so that I can fully go down a google rabbit hole on this?

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Art, like real estate, is used to launder money. I am sure Trump has a long history with overpriced art.

  7. NomNom says:

    The Nazi’s stole a lot of art from France too so this sounds about right.

  8. Lightpurple says:

    I strongly suspect that the Trumps have been stealing art from our embassies, the White House, and the Smithsonian itself daily. Nagini probably has a moving van haul stuff away on a regular basis and removes two or three things from each embassy she visits on her never-ending personal vacations and business trips at taxpayer expense. We won’t know the damage until inventories are taken when and if they finally are removed from office.

    • Chanteloup says:

      I mean, who’s to say the stuff he grifted on that trip *wasn’t* worth $750k at the time, and, mysteriously, it’s been replaced now by fakes…?

  9. Merricat says:

    He barely registers as human, for crying out loud.

  10. Larelyn says:

    So… that last pic. Grump is not wearing lifts. (Compare his shoes to Macron who looks like is wearing lift shoes). Melania appears to be his height wearing 3″ heels. I believe she is 5’8″…? I knew that jerk isn’t 6’3″ like he says, but I didn’t realize how much he lied. I should have known better.

  11. KellyRyan says:

    I think most of us are over Drumpf Shock, and are no longer surprised, just waiting for next day of crazy. Three books this month, Cohen, Melania, Rage. I have Cohen’s book on order slight shipping delay. The sense of entitlement this family displays is a head shaker. “I want it. I’ll take it. It’s mine.” After the election I hope to have months of Schadenfreude with this family and others they collude with.

  12. Trillian says:

    Gotta love how he’s always going on about “business” and “making money” .. If he hadn’t been born as an heir to wealth, he would be lucky to be in middle management.

  13. Mina_Esq says:

    It was about power and control. He took it to show that he could. I don’t think anyone believes that Trump actually appreciates art. He probably felt threatened by the ambassador (ambassador is a woman) and needed to show his power. He’s gross.

  14. Sayrah says:

    Gawd, of course. He really is biff tannen becomes president.

  15. Jay says:

    What does it say about Trump that I read this story and my reaction was “Huh, at least he didn’t sell them to fund his re-election campaign”.

    Also lol to him having the worst, cheapest taste 🤣

    • Darla says:

      Interestingly, there’s a lot of mystery over what has happened to all of the millions that are supposed to be in his campaign coffer.

  16. SilentStar says:

    I just hope that everything that has happened in the last few years shows voters that in addition to being qualified, a good leader needs to have integrity and true compassion for fellow human beings and the Earth they lived on.

  17. Deeanna says:

    The next thing we’ll hear is that they stole all the silver when they left the White House!

    (As long as they’ll just leave, take the damn silver! Just GO!)

  18. Liz version 700 says:

    Our president is like “those relatives” that you only agree to meet at a buffet because you are afraid they will steal your good china omg just omg.

    • Christin says:

      Taking this one step further: Many other family members and acquaintances think said family member is great, and would argue that *you* are wrong about the prolifically pilfering relative.

      Mind boggling how some can ignore what their eyes see and ears hear.

  19. Joseph Furtado says:

    I’ve been going round and round with my Trump supporting aunt for a few weeks now. Here’s the kicker: she’s a trans woman! I honestly cannot fathom how she can vote for someone who’s administration is trying to erase transgendered people all together.

    • Liz version 700 says:

      The ability of people to vote against their self interest has been stunning to see the last 4 years

    • Jerusha says:

      As I mentioned last week, my trumpiest sister, the one who posts all the “praise Dear Leader” shit on FB, has a gay grandson in a long term relationship, and a biracial great grandson. Loves both dearly, loves the SO of the grandson. The trumpublicans would like nothing better than revoking all rights and benefits her loved ones have. It drives me crazy.

  20. bosandi says:

    Wait, so Trump is a thief AND has bad taste??? I’m shocked…said no one.

  21. Valerie says:

    Come ON. Don’t tell me that because he’s the president, he can get away with this.

    • Dara says:

      He can, and will, sort of. If the piece belongs to the US Government, and is not a personal possession of the ambassador, then yes, he can ask it to be moved to the White House. The pieces would be considered “on loan” as long as wants them. Traditionally, presidents are allowed to “borrow” works from the national museums and other government agencies (of the executive branch) to display in the White House during their term. What they are absolutely NOT allowed to do is take it with them after they leave office, or move it to a personal residence (Mar-a-lago for example).

      Usually, there are curators and historians and other staff who all make sure everything ends up back where it should, but I’m worried about what will happen this time. Early on in Trump’s term, he fired the White House Chief Usher and replaced her with someone from his hotels. Lord only knows what he’s done since that has gone unnoticed.

  22. holly hobby says:

    The historians better be on premises on the day this $hitstain moves out of our house. I want everything inventoried. I want the secret service or US Marshal to inspect every box and bag he’s bringing out. That Fxxxer!

  23. Jac says:

    It should be noted that Marla Maples‘ prenup (done after Tiffany was born) states she will lose annual custody payments of $100k if Tiffany joins the military. Assume it would be in Ivana’s divorce agreement too. Speaks volumes.

  24. Jelly says:

    Fascist dictator’s often loot from the people they are supposed to serve. How is this different?

  25. The Recluse says:

    Most of the objects are also loans from various museums. If the Trumps try to take these things, they may finally face consequences for THEFT. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    • E.B. Mann says:

      *shakes head* No, Recluse. I know this is hard to imagine, but none of Trumps will face any consequences. Mark my words: They are going to get away with it. All of it. I promise. ☹️

  26. Miranda says:

    So here’s a fun story I learned about recently: Are we all familiar with Roy Cohn? He was the closet-case McCarthyite prosecutor who sent the Rosenbergs to the electric chair (with the flimsiest evidence against Ethel in particular). Later in life, he became a friend and mentor to Trump, who once gave him a pair of diamond cufflinks out of apparent gratitude. After Cohn died of AIDS (though he insisted it was liver cancer) in 1986, almost all his property was seized by the IRS. When those cufflinks, a gift from his very bestest friend and protege, were appraised by a jeweler, they were found to be FAKE, Isn’t that just so fucking Trumpy?

  27. DebraSam says:

    The absolute epitome of an “ugly American”. Ugh.

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