When SoHo artist William Quigley relocated to East Hampton in 2013, he wanted to get involved with his new community and thought he could contribute by offering to donate a portion of the proceeds from a celebrity portrait auction to the the village’s nonprofit art museum and theater Guild Hall. When Donald Trump got wind that the auction would feature a portrait of himself, he became interested in perhaps purchasing the large-scale painting.
Quigley had been painting celebrity portraits for years, including of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Of course, at the time he decided to paint Trump, he had no idea that Trump himself would one day become a presidential contender.
Quigley says it was his mother, Janet Hook, who inspired him to paint a portrait of Trump. She encouraged him to watch Trump on The Apprentice. “I said, ‘Mom, you like Donald Trump?'” She thought the show would be a good way for him to learn about business. He began to watch the television program, and soon he liked Trump too.
Quigley began the portrait in 2006. He didn’t put the finishing touches on it until 2011.
The auction was held during a reception for The Pleasurists, an exhibition of Quigley and Ben Moon’s art, held at Quigley’s Newtown Lane studio in East Hampton on July 12, 2013. It was advertised that three paintings would be offered in a live auction, including portrait subjects Trump and Ethan Hawke.
Quigley says he received word before the auction that Trump may want the painting, so he better raise the starting bid so as not to embarass Trump.
Trump asked a friend, billionaire art collector Stewart Rahr, to bid on his behalf
The bidding started at $30,000. Andy Dick was supposed to be the celebrity auctioneer, but when he couldn’t perform his duties, Quigley’s friend Conrad Steinman stepped in.
Quigley says the final bid came in at around $100,000.
“When he bought it, I was floored,” Quigley says.
Trump tweeted about the auction a couple days later, though he didn’t offer a clue that he was behind the purchase.
Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2013
Quigley met Trump in person to pick up the check—which came out to $67,000. “He was nothing but a gentlemen,” he recalls.
Quigley says he forwarded $10,000 of the proceeds to Guild Hall.
Now Quigley features the portrait on T-shirts in his Skrapper clothing line. The T’s read “Fired Up” and “Invest in Integrity.”