Originally published on Politico
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Ten years ago, I worked at Trump magazine, the short-lived publication that aimed to attract a readership of wealthy men with an unending parade of luxury. Articles promised “the best” American caviar, spreads of designer jets and yachts, “classic” golf tips—accompanied, of course, with pages upon pages advertising Trump products, and a whole lot of scantily dressed women.
One representative example was the winter 2006 issue, the cover of which featured a champagne flute held between the ample breasts of a faceless model, all promoting a “Trumptastic gift guide” just in time for the holidays. Inside, the nine-page spread kicks off with a photo of a woman wearing a bubblegum pink nightie and holding a power tie-clad teddy bear sporting Donald Trump’s coiffure.
As far as I know, Trump didn’t pen the list himself. (The magazine’s publisher paid Trump to license his name; the mogul didn’t have anything to do with managing the magazine.) But today, the gift guide is a revealing glimpse into the president-elect’s psyche—the spirit of splashy extravagance that the magazine’s editorial team was trying to capture, and sell. Just half of the recommended items retailed for less than $1,000. Only a handful were made in the United States. None were intended for women, and all are informed by a particularly ostentatious male gaze.
In the spirit of nostalgia for a simpler time, here are eight of the items from the Christmas 2006 “Trumptastic gift guide.”
1. Leica M8 Camera — $1,500–$3,000
Today, this luxury German-engineered camera retails for between $1,500–$3,000 on eBay. Back in 2006, it was a cutting-edge digital camera—an appropriateluxury item in a time before smart phones with built-in cameras became ubiquitous.
2. Orvis 150th Anniversary Edition Old Town Canoe — Roughly $9,000
An average canoe will cost the adventurous boater between $500 and $900. But Donald Trump is not the average anything. This Old Town canoe is a beautiful work of craftsmanship, handmade from canvas, cedar, spruce and mahogany. And while Trump is not exactly known for being outdoorsy (nor does his approach to climate change signal the conservationist), given the ongoing threat of global warming and sea levels rising, it might just be the most practical recommendation in the entire magazine.
3. Bill Amberg Medicine Bag — $1,155–$1,270
It’s easy to consider the choice of this bag, produced by craftsman Bill Amberg in London, England, as a marker of pure narcissism. Its leather is billed as tan but looks more like (ahem) bright orange, and it’s big enough to hold pens, papers, laptops—“the perfect man-bag for those with the aplomb to pull it off,” says Trump magazine.
4. Döttling Luxury Safes — $40,000–$340,000
Another high-priced German import, the Döttling luxury safe offers buyers peace of mind that their valuables will be secure. And, ironically, the safe itself is one such valuable: Döttling’s entry-level products start at $40 grand. The products have titles such as “Fortress,” “Liberty” and “Liberty Barcelona”; But for the customer seeking the truly Trumptastic gift, Döttling’s “Narcissus” model, which was conceived by Karl Lagerfield and is noticeably sleeker and more stylish than other designs, might be the most appropriately named selection.
5. Liste Rouge Paris Shirts — $200–$360
The president-elect might have a line of men’s ties, but he’s not known for his style. Notable tailors around the world have discussed how poorly his suits fit, and he has even been caught using scotch tape to keep his ties neat. Despite—or perhaps, because—of that, the Trumptastic gift guide recommends the Liste Rouge Paris Shirts, custom-designed to fit one’s exact proportions. Dapper mencan measure themselves, fill out a form online and receive the shirt a few weeks later in the mail.
6. Elie Bleu Che Guevara Accessories — $200-$5,000
Decorated humidors, watch boxes, pens, lighters and ashtrays depict Guevara, described as the “cigar loving Cuban revolutionary”. These items—made by yet another company in France—were part of a limited edition, and currently retail online for hundreds or even thousands of Euros. If you need proof that Trump didn’t have much to do with the magazine that bore his name, start here. Not only doesn’t Trump smoke, he’s spent his campaign hammering Cuba, and his entire career is a temple to capitalism and underpaying labor—literally everything Che stood against.
7. Pyrat Rum — $230-$356
This choice of run is also out of character for Trump, who does not drink alcohol. His older brother, Fred, who died of alcoholism at 42, had warned Donald never to drink, a choice to which Trump (partially) credits his success, saying, “If you don’t drink and you don’t do drugs, your children … are going to have a tremendously enhanced chance of really being successful and having a good life.” Retailing at more than $200 a bottle, Pyrat Rum comes in its own individual cedar box, which could be considered the product’s most appealing aspect. That’s certainly not its taste: While some enjoy sipping it on ice, online reviews state thatPyrat 1643 smells and tastes like a cleaning product.
8. Cohiba Black from General Cigars — roughly $300 for a box of 25
Described as a gift that can please a cigar expert as well as a novice, a box of “super premium” Cohiba cigars goes for several hundred dollars online. Crafted in the Dominican Republic and produced by an American company, Cohiba cigars are not to be confused with products of the Cuban brand Cohiba, a favorite of Fidel Castro, whom Trump called a “brutal dictator.” Use of the name has led to the two brands to court.