This story embodies Trump’s ability to completely ignore the truth.
In the past year or so, Donald Trump has proven time and again that he possesses an uncanny ability to shield himself from the truth when it runs counter to the narrative he’s created for himself.
On day one of his presidency, we saw him arguing over the size of the crowd at his inauguration. Now it’s become clear that he’s been telling himself — and others — that a Renoir painting on his wall is real, despite the claims of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Speaking to Vanity Fair’s “Inside the Hive” podcast, Trump biographer Tim O’Brien said that he tried to correct the business magnate when he boasted that his copy of “Two Sisters (On the Terrace)” was the original. O’Brien claims on the podcast he stated simply to Trump, “Donald, it’s not. I grew up in Chicago. That Renoir is called ‘Two Sisters on the Terrace,’ and it's hanging on the wall at the Art Institute of Chicago. That’s not an original.”
Nonetheless, Trump just the next day brought up his “original painting” as though O’Brien’s hand had never been raised.
Here is a screenshot of the painting’s listing from the Art Insitute of Chicago’s digital archive.
Image via Art Institute Chicago
The painting more recently made a public appearance in the background of a CBS interview with Lesley Stahl just days after Trump won the presidential election.
The Art Institute of Chicago has remained relatively quiet on the issue. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, Amanda Hicks, a spokesperson for the Institute, asserted her confidence that their painting is the real thing. She said the museum is “satisfied that our version is real.” According to the Institute, the painting was gifted to the gallery in 1933 by Annie Swan Coburn.
The White House, unsurprisingly, hasn’t responded to inquiries. With a host of bigger issues facing the nation than the veracity of Trump’s claim that he owns an original painting, citizens and media outlets alike seem content to take the Art Institute’s claim at face value.
Said the president’s biographer on the podcast, “He believes his own lies in a way that lasts for decades. He’ll tell the same stories time and time again, regardless of whether or not facts are right in front of his face.”