In 1987, Donald Trump published a notoriously swaggering business memoir called The Art of the Deal that captured the ego-driven ‘80s zeitgeist and helped catapult him to international fame, his “Apprentice” TV franchise, and eventual political calling.
Twenty-four years later, another book titled Art of the Deal appeared, and it was fairly different. For one thing, it was a scholarly account of the changing place of contemporary art in the global financial market, written by a scrupulous art-history PhD named Noah Horowitz (who has since become the director of Art Basel Miami Beach). For another thing, it featured an Arab sheikh and two women outside a Dubai art fair on the cover, instead of a pink-haired real-estate mogul sitting under a giant golden “TRUMP.”
But can you really tell the difference between the two books? Many Trump voters evidently couldn’t, since after the tycoon declared his presidential campaign Amazon orders for Horowitz’s study skyrocketed. Here, take a quiz to see if you can identify which illuminating quote comes from which book. (An answer key is at the bottom.)*
a. “Art of the Deal came to life as a Ph.D. dissertation at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and I am first and foremost grateful to the Courtauld’s academic community for laying the foundations of this book.”
b. "Ivana Trump, my wonderful wife, and my three children were understanding about the many weekends that I spent working gone the book. Si Newhouse first came to me and convinced me to do a book despite my initial reluctance."
a. "Art historian David Solkin has discussed the emergence of paintings as objects of “widespread capital investment” in eighteenth-century England and Peter Watson, in his excellent book on the formation of the modern art market, has cited Baron Friedrich von Grimm, salon in the eighteenth century, as advocating that 'purchasing paintings for resale was an excellent way to invest one’s money.'"
b. "I don’t do it for the money. I’ve got enough, more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks."
a. "I like thinking big. I always have. To me it’s very simple: if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big. Most people think small because most people are afraid of success, afraid of making decisions, afraid of winning. And that gives people like me a great advantage."
b. "As indicated by its etymology, conceptual art refers to practices that prioritize an artwork’s idea or the variables encircling its production or reception to the fabrication of tangible objects."
a. "The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion."
b. "Lawrence Weiner’s tripartite 'Statement of Intent' (1969) is worth restating:
1. The artist may construct the piece
2. The piece may be fabricated
3. The piece need not be built"
a. "Bourdieu’s ideas are not without their problems, and many of the black-and-white polarities advanced in his writing are rooted in an antiquated theorization of the avant-garde that has been ruptured with the onset of postmodernity, especially the lowering of boundaries between high and low culture."
b. "I also protect myself by being flexible. I never get too attached to one deal or one approach. For starters, I keep a lot of balls in the air, because most deals fall out, no matter how promising they seem at first. "
a. "I’ve always felt that a lot of modern art is a con, and that the most successful painters are often better salesmen and promoters than they are artists."
b. "On the eve of Paik’s 1982 retrospective, Castelli captured the prevailing mood of the decade by exclaiming that 'Commercially, video art has turned out to be almost totally unprofitable.'"
a. "With the tempering of the Cold War, the art trade in Russia, and much of the former Eastern Bloc, was resurrected during the 1990s through heightened international economic and political affiliations and because of the extraordinary wealth accumulated through its industrialization—the region’s chief oil, mining, and energy magnates are also its foremost art collectors."
b. "One thing led to another, and now I’m talking about building a large luxury hotel, across from the Kremlin, in partnership with the Soviet government. They have asked me to go to Moscow in July."
a. "There are people—I categorize them as life’s losers—who get their sense of accomplishment and achievement from trying to stop others. As far as I’m concerned, if they had any real ability they wouldn’t be fighting me, they’d be doing something constructive themselves."
b. "If the aforementioned tendencies—the event-driven turn in the market, the market’s ongoing globalization, the continued ascent of formerly 'alternative' practices to the mainstream, and persistent complication around investing in art—have all come into greater clarity over these past five years, one final factor arguably trumps all others with respect to the present vitality of the trade: the growing divide between the top of the market and everything else."
a. "The 'micro-utopias' that Bourriaud so highly applauds are at times difficult to parcel from the power-to-the-individual hype characteristic of the 1990s dot-com economy, to which we shall return in more detail below."
b. "Even in elementary school, I was a very assertive, aggressive kid. In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye—I punched my music teacher because I didn’t think he knew anything about music and I almost got expelled. I’m not proud of that, but it’s clear evidence that even early on i had a tendency to stand up and make my opinions known in a very forceful way."
a. "You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on."
b. "Already, one outcome of the financial crisis has been an escalation of disclosure and compliance in the world of business, and the art market may be forced to follow a similar path, especially as it extends into new geographies and covers increasingly diverse types of artistic and financial practices about which collectors and investors alike will want greater assurances."
a. "Anything can change, without warning and that’s why I try not to take any of what’s happened too seriously. Money was never a big motivation from, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what I should have done differently, or what’s going to happen next. If you ask me exactly what the deals I’m about to describe all add up to in the end, I’m not sure I have a very good answer. Except that I had a very good time making them. "
b. "A speculative bubble is defined as an unsustainable increase in prices brought on by investors’ buying behavior rather than by genuine, fundamental information about value. Bubbles are thus social in nature and driven by the irrationality of investors who push prices beyond a sustainable level. As long as pries are escalating, the boom mentality can continue, but a sudden, unexpected shock to the system can burst the bugged and reverse prices, sending investor confidence into a downward spiral."
ANSWER KEY: Seriously?
*Research for this quiz was compiled from a used copy of The Art of the Deal that was purchased at Housing Works, a charity dedicated to the fight against AIDS and homelessness. (Though even if it was bought new, half the proceeds would go to charity thanks to its co-writer, Tony Schwartz, who now disavows his role in writing the book.)