The only thing I ever knew about Lake Charles, Louisiana...were the lyrics from the great song by The Band, “Up On Cripple Creek.” Now the other thing I know about it, is that the town was ravaged recently by Hurricane Laura. It left 16 dead and many with destroyed homes.
President Trump made a visit there, as Presidents always seem to do when a town deals with a devastating event. As he signed autographs for city officials, he was overheard telling some of them they should sell them on ebay, because they could be worth $10,000 a pop.
The only other time I’ve ever heard someone suggest a person sell their autograph, is artist Peter Max. I went to a book signing he was doing in Mission Valley and my friend had this rare book he had done in the ‘60s. She wanted him to autograph it, but he instead wanted to keep it. He begged her to stay until after everyone had left, which we did. I paid $50 for the coffee table book he had just released. She wasn’t about to shell out that kind of cash, thinking she’d just get her book from the ‘60s signed. He pleaded with her, saying “Look, I’m going to draw you a picture and sign that, and you can turn around and sell it on ebay for $10,000.”
The funny thing is...he was completely wrong about that. Had he done a painting for her, perhaps. But not a quick picture of a boat on the ocean with a sun and birds, which took him about 1 minute to draw. But she gave him the book. I told her she should have negotiated, and said “I also want you to throw in a signed coffee table book.”
But from Peter to the President...
Trump is right, that presidential autographs are worth money, but..when a Lincoln autograph on a scrap of paper sells for $5,000...his signature is probably closer to $50 in value. Especially when you factor in his “popularity” as well as how many signatures of his are out there (since he’s done many reality shows and has been in the public eye since the ‘80s).
Trump didn’t just sign for city officials. He also signed for others that were able to get close to him.
No matter how you feel about President Trump, I always sort of think back to the scene Tom Berenger did in “The Big Chill.” He was playing a famous actor attending a funeral. A boy approached him and asked for his autograph. He said he didn’t think it was appropriate at the time. The kid, seeming undeterred, stood his ground. Berenger smiled and said “Okay. For five bucks.”
Anyway, if a President shows up where people died or lost their houses, it’s best to keep the photo ops and signatures, a bit more on the downlow.