I’m all for finding the inner artist in everyone, and have long been an advocate for bringing arts education to the under-served, disenfranchised, and the non-artist. We all, potentially, have an artistic voice in there, somewhere- it just may need some nurturing. I admit, I’ve sometimes found the financial and political machinations of the art market hard to fathom, but the word “criminal” hadn’t come to mind until last week when I read that George Zimmerman’s painting, his very first, had fetched a whopping $100,099.99 at auction. Albeit it was Ebay, not Sotheby’s, but still. The sale opened at a starting price of 99 cents. At least George was optimistic.
In July, Zimmerman, 30, was acquitted in the death of Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, who he shot in self-defense. The teen was armed with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea. Zimmerman’s attorney, Jayne Weintraub, said that her client created the artwork himself and posted it for sale. In the item description box, Zimmerman wrote: “”First hand painted artwork by me, George Zimmerman. Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself. I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences. My artwork allows me to reflect, providing a therapeutic outlet and allows me to remain indoors 🙂 I hope you enjoy owning this piece as much as I enjoyed creating it. Your friend, George Zimmerman.” According to Zimmerman’s attorney Jayne Weintraub, “Unfairly, he has not been gainfully employed of late and he’s utilizing his talent to make some money” (likely, to pay his legal team’s bill of over 2.5 million.) The painting, done in “regular household latex paint because I needed to put these visions onto the blank canvas as soon as possible” depicts an American flag in differing shades of blue with the words “one nation” under the word “God,” followed by the words “with liberty and justice for all.”
So who are these ninety-six bidders- Patrons of the Arts? Collectors of Americana? I can’t imagine what possessed them. How did they even know of the painting’s existence? Is there a ‘saved search’ category for “acquitted killer novice painter’s first effort?” In a not too surprising twist, Ebay removed an anti-Zimmerman painting by artist Michael D’Antuono the same day as George’s painting sold. Fifty percent of the proceeds from D’Antuono’s auction were to have gone to the Trayvon Martin Foundation. I wonder if doing that one painting helped George with his pain as much as watching the Ebay bidding soar from 99 cents to $100,099.99.
I wonder what kind of paintings Trayvon Martin’s parents could ever paint to begin to fathom the loss of their son. Or maybe they are doing something else to heal.