Stewart Rahr is a pharmaceutical billionaire, self-described “king of all fun” and, as President Donald Trump told a magazine, a real character.
Rahr, a fixture on gossip sites, was “the fake bidder” who plunked down $60,000 in 2013 for a portrait of his friend Trump, according to an article clipping provided Wednesday by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
“The objective was to ensure that his portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon,” Cohen said in his opening statement Wednesday to the House Oversight Committee. He also described the bidder as a straw buyer, who makes a purchase on behalf of another person.
The bidder was reimbursed by the charity Trump Foundation, Cohen told the House Oversight Committee.
CNN made several calls and emails to Rahr, but did not receive a response. On one attempt, a man who answered the phone said he could get Rahr on the line but hung up once he found out it was CNN calling. Rahr declined to comment when the Washington Post reported on Trump’s charitable giving in 2016.
CNN also reached out to the Trump Organization but has not yet received a response.
In 2015, Dan’s Papers, a lifestyle publication in the posh Hamptons on Long Island, reported that the portrait’s artist, William Quigley, had heard about Trump’s interest in the painting and was told to raise the starting bid.
Trump asked his pal Rahr to bid on his behalf at the 2013 auction, according to Dan’s Papers.
“Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself,” Cohen testified. The Trump Foundation dissolved in late 2018 amid a New York state lawsuit that claimed it violated campaign-finance laws and abused its tax-exempt status.
One of Cohen’s exhibits includes a news article saying that Rahr, a prominent art collector, made the purchase. The item is circled and labeled “Michael C.” Cohen testified that Trump’s handwriting was on a copy of a New York Daily News article about the sale.
Trump tweeted about the winning bid a few days later, but didn’t mention having any role in it.
“Just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in E. Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped list at $60K,” Trump tweeted.
According to a 2013 Forbes profile, Rahr, now in his early 70s, built his fortune through his family business Kinray, a drug distribution company. In 2010, he sold Kinray to Cardinal Health for $1.3 billion.
Page Six has frequently written about Rahr’s Gatsby-esque, lavish spending and wild antics.
Rahr, who refers to himself in the third person as “Rah Rah,” was banned from the famed sushi restaurant Nobu in 2012 for cursing out the manager, according to the New York Post. His gun license was also suspended for a period of time after a heated exchange with an elevator operator that same year, The New York Times reported.
Rahr would send massive email blasts containing updates on his life to a list of celebrities, journalists, politicians and other influential figures, Forbes reported. The messages were often signed “Stewie Rah Rah Number One King of All Fun.”
And much like another New York billionaire, he’s often seen posing for photos with celebrities.
“He’s different than other people,” Trump told the magazine. “He’s a character, and he’s fun to be with.”
So where is the portrait now? It’s hanging in one of the President’s country clubs, Cohen said.
Quigley told Dan’s Papers that he had met with Trump in person to collect the check, “He was nothing but a gentleman.”
CNN’s Phil Gast and Augusta Anthony contributed to this report.