Make Art Great Again: Framed Trump signature sells for $4,800 in Toronto
A framed cue card with U.S. President Donald Trump’s signature on it has sold for $4,800 at an art exhibition in Toronto, much to the surprise of the artist who put the bare-bones sculpture together.
The “recontexualized” sculpture features Trump’s signature on a plain white cue card, centered in a white matte with a white shadowbox frame around it.
Artist Peter Andrew Lusztyk says he was inspired to create the piece after looking up Trump’s signature out of curiosity last year, shortly after the president’s inauguration.
“It was very distinct and sort of peculiar-looking,” Lusztyk told CTVNews.ca by phone on Tuesday. “It kind of looks like an EKG scan – very spasmic, and it’s very unusual.”
Lusztyk bought the cue card for US$300 on eBay last year, stripped it out of the “hilarious” frame in which it came and set it aside, thinking he would eventually have it framed. He says the item came with a certificate of authenticity indicating it was signed at Trump Tower in New York City in 2011.
The push to complete the project came a few days ago, when Only One Gallery owner and friend Cais Mukhayesh asked Lusztyk for a small piece to include in his latest exhibition. Lusztyk, who works primarily with photography, promised Mukhayesh a “surprise” sculpture, then had the cue card framed overnight.
Lusztyk says he never intended to sell the piece, but Mukhayesh told him he needed to put a price tag on it to be included in the show.
He says he listed it at the “astronomical” price of $4,800 because he thought (wrongly) that nobody would buy it.
“And I showed up to the opening a little bit late and it was already sold,” he said, adding that it went to an Iranian collector who scooped it up early.
Lusztyk says he was initially “a little bit sad” to see the piece go, but he ultimately took the sale as a positive sign. “My first sculpture was a success,” he said.
Lusztyk also acknowledged that some people online might be critical of the piece as “just a signature in a frame.”
“They’re going to lose their minds,” he said. “It’s going to be the best part.”
He adds that the sculpture is significant because it represents a historic and highly controversial presidency that will be remembered forever.
“It’s the signature that’s the rubber stamp that goes on all the legislation that’s super controversial,” he said.
Lusztyk says he tried to find another clean specimen of Trump’s signature online after the sale, but such items are now far more rare and expensive than they were a year ago.
There are plenty of signed dollar bills and Make America Great Again hats available on eBay, but signed cue cards are much harder to find.
In other words, the collector just got a “deal” on the art, Lusztyk says.
The Only One Gallery exhibit featuring Lusztyk’s work is open Wednesday through Friday in Toronto.