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Trump to US Diplomat: Your $750K Art Is Mine

Ambassador Jamie McCourt didn't object, sources say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2020 12:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – President Trump, art lover? That's what Bloomberg is reporting. Seems the president carted home a box-load of art from the US ambassador's mansion while visiting France in 2018. Insiders say Trump told the ambassador, Jamie McCourt, that a painting, bust, and set of figurines were returning with him to Washington—and the startled diplomat didn't say no. Trump had the $750,000 haul loaded onto Air Force One while he visited a cemetery to commemorate the end of World War I. He later said the art would be returned "in six years" after his possible second term. The move triggered a flurry of emails between Washington officials, but they ultimately deemed it legal because the art belonged to Uncle Sam.

"The president brought these beautiful, historical pieces, which belong to the American people, back to the United States to be prominently displayed in the People's House," White House spokesman Judd Deere told AFP. The art pieces—silver figurines of Greek mythical characters, and a bust and portrait of Benjamin Franklin—all turned out to be copies, so Trump had the original portrait, from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, hung in the Oval Office instead (although he quipped that he liked the copy more). The figurines are sitting on a mantel at the Oval Office. The fate of the bust remains unclear. (It's the same trip in which Trump allegedly called America's war dead "losers and suckers.")

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