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Trump’s PAC donated $650,000 to Smithsonian to pay for paintings of him and Melania

Trump’s political action committee donated $650,000 to the Smithsonian Institution to help underwrite portraits of the him and Melania at the National Portrait Gallery, new report claims

  • Donald Trump’s PAC gave $650,000 to the Smithsonian Institution to pay for portraits of the former president and Melania Trump
  • It’s the first time in recent history a political entity is paying paintings
  • The paintings are usually funded by donations from private donors 
  • The July 14th ‘charitable contribution’ was listed in Trump’s monthly Save America PAC filing to the Federal Election Commission
  • Money will cover artists’ fees and other costs 
  • Work has begun but no date yet for the paintings to be unveiled 
  • The portraits will hang in the National Portrait Gallery 

A $650,000 donation from Donald Trump‘s political action committee will help pay for his and Melania Trump‘s portraits at the Smithsonian Institution.

It’s the first time in recent memory that a political organization has financed a former president’s portrait for the museum. The paintings are usually paid for by private, individual donations. 

But Trump’s portrait will mostly be paid for by donations from his MAGA supporters, collected through his political arm.

The July 14th ‘charitable contribution’ was listed in Trump’s monthly Save America PAC filing to the Federal Election Commission. 

The money will cover artists’ and other fees associated with the Trumps’ portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas told The Washington Post

She said there was another private donation of $100,000 to help with costs but declined to name the donor.

‘Two artists have been commissioned, one for each portrait. The names will be released closer to the reveal of the paintings,’ St. Thomas told Business Insider, which first reported the FEC filing. ‘The creation of the portraits is underway. The timing of the artworks’ reveal not determined yet.’ 

A $650,000 donation from Donald Trump’s political action committee will help pay for his and Melania Trump’s portraits at the Smithsonian Institution; above the Trumps on the South Lawn in December 2020

The paintings are usually funded by private, individual donors and not political entities; the portraits will hang in the National Portrait Gallery; above the Trumps at the White House in October 2020

The paintings are usually funded by private, individual donors and not political entities; the portraits will hang in the National Portrait Gallery; above the Trumps at the White House in October 2020

These Trump paintings should not be confused with the official portraits that will go in the White House. 

These portraits will hang in the National Portrait.

There is no date for the unveiling of the Trump portraits. The Obamas’ portraits were unveiled about 13 months after President Barack Obama left office.

The donation from a political entity for the works of art was legal because Save America is a leadership PAC with few restrictions on the use of funds. 

The money from the PAC can be used for a variety of costs. Its latest filing costs for staff salaries, travel reimbursement, airfare, car rentals, office supplies, ubers and legal consulting. 

Trump has been a fundraising machine since leaving office. His leadership PAC has $99 million in cash reserves. 

The National Portrait Gallery began commissioning portraits of outgoing presidents in 1994 and first lady’s were added in 2006.

Private donors paid the costs. 

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have their portraits unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in February 2018 - more than 300 donors contributed to the paintings' costs

Former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have their portraits unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery in February 2018 – more than 300 donors contributed to the paintings’ costs

Barack Obama's portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley

Barack Obama’s portrait was painted by Kehinde Wiley

Michelle Obama's portrait was painted by Amy Sherald

Michelle Obama’s portrait was painted by Amy Sherald

More than 300 donors — including Steven Spielberg, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen — contributed to the $750,000 commission fees for the Obama portraits.

Those paintings were notable because they were done by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, who were the first African American artists to receive the presidential commissions.

The Obamas chose the artists and unveiled the results in February 2018 at the Portrait Gallery. 

The Obama portraits are currently on a national tour, according to the Smithsonian Institute, and will return to the Washington D.C. gallery in October.  

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