January 17, 2017 - 7:22 pm
Richard Schwartz’s new ride is sure to turn heads.
Not because the 1961 Lincoln Continental is a classic car — there are plenty of those motoring about Las Vegas. The convertible’s hood and trunk will be covered in dozens of ceramic bobbleheads resembling President-elect Donald Trump in the nude.
Schwartz, a 77-year-old venture capitalist, is debuting the vehicle today to promote his newest investment: official replicas of the naked Trump statue that made international headlines last year.
“It’s really an overkill, but what the heck? It’s fun,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to make some noise.”
The life-size effigies appeared in five major U.S. cities last August, caricaturing a Trump who bared all with a frowning face, semitransparent skin and folded hands resting atop a considerable, sagging paunch.
From the moment he saw the statues on TV, Schwartz said he knew they could be transformed into a best-selling novelty. Within four hours, he had tracked down their maker’s phone number and invited him to dinner to discuss his vision.
“As soon as he pitched it to me, I realized this is a gold mine,” said Joshua Monroe, the 36-year-old Las Vegas artist who created the piece for the collective INDECLINE.
Before it became a viral sensation, naked Trump was a covert operation.
Monroe, former director of the now-shuttered Eli Roth’s Goretorium, was working as an HVAC technician when INDECLINE asked to meet with him last February. The collective found out about Monroe through his side work as a subcontractor creating sculptures and body casts for Cirque du Soleil.
INDECLINE members refused to talk about the project over the phone, so Monroe met with an anonymous representative at a coffee shop at Town Square.
Seven months later, the first batch of naked Trump statues was unleashed upon the world. For a short time, the red-haired Monroe adopted the moniker “Ginger” to disguise his identity in case of blowback.
To date, he’s made 11 of the statues. Some have been destroyed. Some are in art galleries, and some have sold at auction for thousands of dollars.
Monroe and Schwartz hope to capitalize on that financial success by selling many more — albeit smaller in size and price.
“We hope to sell 2 million of them,” Schwartz said. “We probably have every bit of four years to market the stuff. … I don’t see how it could miss.”
So far they have about 14,500 bobbleheads on hand. Schwartz, a native of San Francisco, has pledged $150,000 to purchase and advertise the initial stock.
The bobbleheads, made in China, are 9 inches tall — about eight-and-a-half times shorter than the statues. They’re on sale on Amazon and eBay for $35, including shipping.
There are also even smaller miniatures, whose heads don’t bobble, that stand about 3 inches tall and will sell for $5. Schwartz is making them into keychains.
In addition to the bobblehead-covered convertible, Schwartz plans to promote the products by holding a scavenger hunt in Las Vegas next month for a golden-plated bobblehead. For those who disapprove of the bobbleheads, there will be a contest to find the most creative way to destroy one.
Still, Schwartz said he expects their best source of advertising will be Trump himself.
“We could have never done this with anybody else who was running,” he said. “Donald makes it fun. … He gives us all the material.”
Monroe said he hopes to make enough money to retire from his job in heating and air conditioning maintenance.
“I don’t want to have to do the 9-to-5,” he said. “I want to focus on my art but still be able to support my family.”
In his free time, Monroe is working on a collaboration with Los Angeles-based street artist Plastic Jesus. He’s keeping the project under wraps for now.
“It is something I think will drive some media attention,” he said. “It’s gonna be a fun piece.”
Contact Michael Scott Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @DavidsonLVRJ on Twitter.