Havi Schanz is a Miami Beach-based Argentine artist who paints portraits of famous people for a living. In 2014, he painted a four-foot-tall portrait of Donald Trump — “back when he was just a billionaire, not the Republican nominee,” Schanz says.
The painting, along with one of Marilyn Monroe, was donated by Schanz to the Unicorn Children's Foundation, a charity for youth with autism and developmental challenges. When Trump saw the oil painting of himself at a fundraising gala in 2014, he was compelled by the image and dropped a cool $10,000 on it.
There was just one problem: According to the executive director of the Unicorn Foundation, the check that arrived at the charity’s offices was from the magnate's charity, not Trump himself.
The Washington Post reports that the portrait is the second such instance in which Trump paid for an artwork of himself using charity funds. (Trump declined comment to the Post.) If the portraits were found to be purchased for personal, as opposed to charitable use, tax experts say their purchase would be in breach of tax laws. But the usage of both pieces of art couldn't be determined because they were missing — until now.
A Twitter user spotted Schanz' Trump portrait in a photo posted on the travel review website TripAdvisor.
The photo, dated February 2016, shows the painting of a younger, trimmer, more '90s-style Trump hanging in a hallway of the Trump National Doral Miami. In the lower right corner of the painting, Schanz' signature is visible.
Schanz told the Post he didn't know where the painting ended up after it was sold.
Contacted yesterday before the Doral discovery, the artist told New Times that every time he paints, “part of my energy process involves asking permission from the soul of the person I’m going to paint. That way I can capture the energy reflected in their gazes.” We can only speculate as to the exchange of energy that occurred between the Republican presidential nominee and his oil-painted likeness, though Schanz did report to the Post that Trump was “touched” by the artist’s painting.
Asked for his opinion about Trump, Schanz stated, “Since I am not yet a citizen, I prefer not to discuss politics.” The irony is that the presidential candidate, who has put forward one of the most xenophobic and nationalistic policy platforms of any candidate in recent history, might get in trouble for purchasing a portrait of himself painted by an Argentine immigrant in the process of becoming a citizen.
Neither the Trump campaign nor the Trump National Doral Miami immediately responded to New Times' requests for comment.