Ahead of the Mueller Report, Donald Trump’s Staff Edited Kehinde Wiley’s Barack Obama Portrait Into a Fantasy of FBI Surveillance

The president's reelection committee is selling shirts that depict Obama as a spy.

A paranoid riff on Kehinde Wiley’s official portrait of President Barack Obama has been appropriated for a new t-shirt to raise funds for Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump’s fundraising committee recently added an outrageous new object to its online store: a shirt depicting Barack Obama peeking out from a shrub with binoculars and headphones to spy on the Donald.

The picture of Obama—which imagines in some paranoid fantasy that he’s surreptitiously observing the current president—is a clear riff on Kehinde Wiley’s official portrait of the former President, in which he is set against flowers signifying his Kenyan and Hawaiian heritage, as well as his Chicago roots. The similarity was first noted by Hyperallergic.

Neither Kehinde Wiley nor representatives for Barack Obama responded to immediate requests for comment. Trump has been consistently trying to undercut the Mueller Report, due to drop imminently, as being the product of allegedly improper surveillance the FBI conducted on his campaign under Obama for political reasons.

The a delusional product description for the shirt (which was “proudly made in the USA”) says nothing about the $28 product, which is being sold to raise money for Trump’s reelection campaign:


We can’t let Democrats and their cronies in the Fake News cover up corruption in the SWAMP!


The "I Spy Trump Tee" on sale to raise funds for the reelection of Donald Trump.. Courtesy of the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.

The “I Spy Trump Tee” on sale to raise funds for the reelection of Donald Trump.. Courtesy of the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.

The image of Obama as a secret agent first surfaced online in February 2018 and was one of the many memes that blew up after Wiley’s portrait was unveiled to the world. On the new t-shirt, the picture is accompanied by a message asking onlookers to “TEXT ‘SPY'” to  a number that connects you to the marketing department of Donald Trump’s election campaign. (Doing so means that “you are consenting to receive calls and SMS/MMS messages, including autodialed and automated calls and texts” from the reelection committee and the Republican National Committee, according to a message on the bottom of the website.)

The shirt is just one of many bizarre items available in the online store, from specialized MAGA hats, swimsuits, and dog collars, to “limited edition” gifts emblazoned with phrases lifted from Trump’s Twitter account. One item, written in randomly capitalized letters, states: “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION! KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” You can get that one on a commemorative wood box for playing cardsYou can also buy a “WITCH HUNT!” t-shirt, mug, or beer koozie if you don’t care about your money.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.