This addition to the growing list of nom de Trumps comes from vintage Associate Press wires. Meet “Donald Baron,” who briefly appeared in print 36 years ago.
Before “publicist” “John Miller” anxiously fantasized to People about all the pretty daughters of wealthy men that wanted to bang Donald Trump, the real estate mogul made a shitty splash in the New York Times when he destroyed two irreplaceable Art Deco sculptures.
On June 6th, 1980, the Times reported that the developer, who had been enjoying tens of millions of dollars in tax abatements, demolished the Bonwit Teller Building to make room for a “$100 million 62-story bronze-colored glass tower.” Two stone bas-relief sculptures on the building’s facade “that had been sought with enthusiasm by the Metropolitan Museum of Art” were “smashed by jackhammers” on Trump’s orders, without warning. Enter “Trump spokesman John Barron,” a “Vice president of the Trump firm” who told the Times that they “don’t know what happened to it” but three independent appraisers had supposedly decided that the sculptures were “without artistic merit” and the Met wouldn’t want them anyway. (The Met, of course, was “flabbergasted” by this.) At the same time, the Associated Press attributed these quotes to a different “Vice president of the Trump firm”—someone named “Donald Baron.”
This “Donald Baron” appears in a small batch of archived local newspapers that reprinted the AP wire that day. The discrepancy didn’t stick out, the alias didn’t stick and in 1990 court case, Trump would come out as “John Barron” (his favorite alias), making that shady interaction with the Met shadier.
Trump originally said that the Met could have the sculptures “so long as the cost of removal wasn’t prohibitive” and estimated the cost at $32,000. Four days after the sculptures were smashed to pieces, Trump paused the Barron roleplay to personally say that it was actually going to cost $500,000 and that his “biggest concern was the safety of people on the street below,” though no one ever contacted the Met for safety tips.
In 1999, when he was already scheming on Presidency, Trump got offended by “absolutely gross, degenerate stuff” by Chris Ofili at the Brooklyn Museum and offered some more cultural advice: “As President, I would ensure that the National Endowment of the Arts stops funding of this sort.” The NEA didn’t actually fund that show, but the Baron doesn’t concern himself with small details of a thing he’s talking about.