All that glitters is not gold, but for Donald Trump, that shiny metal object is precisely what calls to him. By the reported look of his palatial Fifth Avenue penthouse, he channels Louis XIV’s gold-filled Palace of Versailles. His tinseled apartment seems like some monarchical head-trip, a three-floor castle in the air fronted by a pair of gilded doors. More King Louis showed up at the president-elect’s first TV interview when he took questions perched on a gilded Louis XIV-style chair. Apparently Trump is so enamored of the precious metal that he changed his Oval Office drapes to gold, as though nostalgic for all his gleaming crown moldings, 24-karat gold faucets, and the glittering letters that spell out his name on the face of Trump Tower.

Style versus substance

But while the U.S. president follows the style of an 18th century French king, he ignores that ruler’s lifestyle choices -- the company he kept -- namely artists, writers and composers. When it comes to artists, Louis commissioned a lot of painters and sculptors, including the leading sculptor of his time, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who is long celebrated for his ability to model marble as if it were malleable as clay. His “Bust of Louis XIV” received abundant praise. Among others, art historian Bruce Cole has classed the work the "grandest piece of portraiture of the baroque age.” There’s no mystery why. The sculptor was able to impart Louis’ kingly air with a mere mass of carved curls and robes.

He also carved the sovereign's faraway look, as if to demonstrate his regal, above-it-all air.

The president is a Philistine

Clearly, style rather than substance rules Trump. Besides not getting that Louis XIV was a patron of the arts, he outright derides those who are. The Washington Post quoted him in 2013 saying that his friends spend “ridiculous” amounts of money on paintings, adding, “I'd rather do jobs like this,” pointing to his newly opened Washington Hotel, “and do something really that the world can cherish." Yeah, right, Donald, who’d want to cherish a painting when someone can have a post office made kitsch-y in gilt to hold dear?

Renoir in reproduction

All that said, it’s surprising that Trump owns a famous Renoir – well, a copy – that hangs in his penthouse. “La Loge” pictures a couple in their box seats at the theater. Given Trump’s disdain for the arts, his comment to Mark Bowden at Vanity Fair last year was unforeseen. Trump beckoned him closer to the picture, but not to point out pictorial details like the Impressionist’s brushwork, but to note the signature, saying, “Worth $10 million” -- as if the copy were not a copy.

His reason for picking the painting may not be conscious, but it’s a no-brainer. While the picture title indicates theater-going, the focus is not on the stage performance, but on the elegance of the couple’s attire.