A major part of the controversy—and IRS complaints filed by CREW—surrounding the Trump Foundation was the foundation’s spending on what appeared to be personal items for Trump, which is illegal for a charitable foundation. $20,000 in 2007 for a portrait of Trump by “speed painter” Michael Israel. $10,000 in 2014 for another painting of Trump by Havi Schanz. $12,000 in 2012 for a football helmet signed by Tim Tebow. He may regret those purchases now, and not just for the whole violating the law business.
While Trump has previously been accused of inflating the value of his assets to give airs of business acumen, CREW pulled the Trump Foundation’s 2015 tax returns and found something surprising.
The Tebow helmet was never worth $12,000 as Tebow, who would attempt just eight professional passes after Trump bought the helmet, was coming off what was his best season, in which he was the 33rd most accurate quarterback in the NFL and the only one to fail to connect on at least half of his passes. There are 32 teams in the league. But admitting that its current fair market value is now $475 is…well, that’s still probably generous, so let’s look at the paintings.
In under a year, the Schanz painting went from $10,000 to just $500. In eight years the fair market value of the Israel painting dropped from the $20,000 he paid to just $700. Israel claims his paintings routinely sell for six figures. It appears that like a Tebow pass, the market for giant Donald Trump portraits went straight into the ground.
Maybe the most interesting part about this is the Trump Foundation previously refused to divulge the locations of these items. Eric Trump told the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold that “he doubted his father kept [the helmet],” saying, “Knowing him, he probably gave that helmet to a child.” Of course, we don’t know that this is the Tebow helmet. It could be some other football helmet he illegally used the foundation’s money to buy for himself. And we wouldn’t blame him (except for that whole breaking the law thing); Tebow has given up not being a football player to not be a baseball player.