Donald Trump (AP/Evan Vucci)

Trump's scribble of New York skyline fetches almost $30K

The once powerful New York real-estate mogul was unable to capture the most famous skyline in the world in pen


Gabriel Bell
July 28, 2017 3:55PM (UTC)

A 2005 drawing of the New York skyline by then celebrity and current president of the United States Donald Trump fetched a cool $29,184 at auction yesterday. Sold through Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles, the drawing in gold ink — naturally — received a total of 11 bids with the auction starting at $9,000.

The drawing originated as part of a charitable auction project in 2005. Pitney Bowes, a mailing company, collected similar doodles from celebrities and persons of power, current Trump GOP bête noire Sen. John McCain included, with proceeds for their sales benefitting child literacy efforts. "Originally drawn by Trump for a charity event, and very rare, with only a handful of such drawings known," the item's description read.

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The drawing is notable as much for its provenance as for its complete failure at capturing the New York skyline. Trump, a lifelong New Yorker and real-estate developer whose various projects have transformed what is perhaps the most famous skyline in history, did not include the Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, Citigroup Center, the then-rising One World Trade Center or any of the many other icons of Manhattan architecture in the artwork (though there's an argument to be made that the Woolworth Building appears repeatedly and out of place).

The only recognizable structure is what appears to be the Trump Tower, located at 725 5th Avenue. In the drawing, the building is not only central to the skyline, but equals or exceeds in height everything around it. The Trump Tower is listed at 664 feet high — a tall building, but no standout in Manhattan.

As inaccurate and, yes, childish as the drawing, it would be unfair to deny the fact that art is not the President's main call or to say the drawing is not without its merits. One cannot say it lacks for boldness or a certain cartoonish humor. There's something to those thick, energetic lines, squat buildings and the sweeping curve of what we can surmise is the Hudson River below them. It's just the kind of innocent, madcap work a parent would be proud to tack onto the refrigerator should their 5-year-old come home from school with it.

At the time he made the drawing Trump was 59.


Gabriel Bell

Gabriel Bell is Salon's Deputy Culture Editor. Follow him on Twitter at @GabrielJBell

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