In November 2012, artist Brian Deutzman had just returned to his hometown of Miami from New York hoping to sell some of his work during Art Basel. So he was thrilled when a broker representing Donald Trump's hotel chain asked to buy a stylized photograph of a classic car to hang in one of the properties. They worked out a deal for $800.
Four years later, Deutzman was startled to read a New Times story yesterday about Trump's questionable personal charity. Among the 93 pages of so-called donations that Trump gave reporters to review were multiple "gifts" to for-profit spas and hotels in Miami, plus a mysterious $800 donation in 2012 to someone listed only as "Brian."
Deutzman is sure that's him. And he has no idea why Trump would list the artwork purchase as an act of charitable giving.
"Nothing involving a charity was ever mentioned at the time," Deutzman says. "And it is bad form to purchase something from an artist and then later call it 'charity.'"
Deutzman's story may simply be a curious footnote to Trump's sideshow of a presidential campaign, but it does add further weight to accusations that the billionaire's charity is less generous than he's claimed. How
Trump's campaign hasn't responded to New Times' questions about Deutzman's story. We'll update this post if we hear back.
The artist, who was born and raised in Miami but moved to New York to pursue his artistic career, says his brush with Trump's empire came during 2012's Art Basel. He was having a drink at the Delano Hotel one night, he says, when he struck up a conversation with a buyer.
Trump has described giving away more than $100 million in recent years.
Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr CC
"He said he was someone who helped a bunch of hotels
The next day, the buyer paid $800 for the classic car photo, and Deutzman never thought back on the deal. "I wasn't really following up on those things. I was just overjoyed I'd sold something," says Deutzman, who declined to name the buyer for fear of seeing him retaliated against.
Deutzman can't prove the "Brian" in Trump's records is him, but the dates and purchase amount line up almost exactly.
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As for finding his long-ago art sale amid a fiery campaign debate, Deutzman shrugs it off. "Miami seems to be a hub for a lot of interesting coincidences," he says.
And Deutzman — who has now moved back to Miami and continues to make art — also wants to make clear that whether he sold the guy an $800 painting or not, he's not getting fitted for a "Make America Great Again" hat anytime soon.
"I despise him as a politician and just as much as a businessman," Deutzman says.