It immediately went viral after it was wheeled into the hall at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, for last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where Mr Trump delivered an address on Sunday.
Days afterwards, a business partner of Mr Zegan reached-out to Politico to say that while the golden statue was assembled in Mexico, where the creator lives as an American expat, the replica of the former president was in-fact made in China.
“Everything is made in China,” one of Mr Zegan’s business partners, Jose Mauricio Mendoza, told Político on Tuesday. “I want to be straight, because if I’m going to sell these statues, they have to be true.”
Mr Mendoza said the factory responsible was the Shijiazhuang D & Z Sculpture Co, in the country’s Hebei province.
A statement on the company’s website appears to confirm that it can “design, manufacture and supply bronze statues, stone sculptures, stainless steel sculptures and fibreglass or resin sculptures all across the world for interior or outdoor decor.”
On Wednesday, Mr Mendoza told the Independent that they went to China to make the fibreglass statue of the former president because it was cheaper than producing it in the US — and would have been bad for business, as well as being less well received at CPAC.
“It’s never been to Mexico, no statues of ours have ever been to Mexico,” Mr Mendoza said, describing the original story behind the statue as a “ploy”.
“It was just a concept we came up with together, with Tom [Zegan],” who had “had gone with another partner of mine to China to make a big Trump statue, which they did,” Mr Mendoza said.
“We weren’t designers, all we did were put a wand on one hand,” he added, and admitted that Mr Zegan “doesn't have any paintings or any sculptures, or anything like that, it’s more of a business than anything else.”
Mr Mendoza admitted that the claim about the statue coming from Mexico “was basically fabricated” and that the statue’s production in China would have upset CPAC’s attendees — never mind the former president, who waged a trade war with the country while in office.
“If somebody says ‘why would he do it?’, well, I think that you don’t want to have a Trump statue at the CPAC and say ‘yeah it was made in China’”, Mr Mendoza said.
“He [Mr Zegan] lived in Mexico, it just felt better using Mexico because it’s our neighbour. China is not our neighbour, and besides, I’m his [Donald Trump’s] fan”, added Mr Mendoza, who admitted that China “makes quality stuff as well”.
“If we sell [Trump] statues and all of a sudden they [customers] found out they are made in China, they can use that excuse to want their money back because you falsely mislead someone,” Mr Mendoza said.
Despite ordering Trump statues from China, he said he supported tariffs imposed by Mr Trump on the country, and hopped to make Trump statues in the US in future.
“We can make four Trump statues for the price of one, in China”, Mr Mendoza said to the Independent.
Mr Zegan admitted to Politico on Tuesday that the golden statue was made in China, as alleged, Politico reported
He had claimed last week that the CPAC statue “was made in Mexico”, and that it took more than six months to assemble with the help of three men.
It was then transported to Tampa, Florida, where the fibreglass model was painted in chrome, and wheeled into the CAPC conference and dressed with a suit jacket, American-flag-themed shorts and flip-flop sandals.
As seen in social media videos and pictures, the model attracted attention among CPAC attendees and critics of the former president, who said the statue showed the party’s infatuation with Mr Trump, who is out of office.
Mr Zegan told CNN last week that he wanted to create the six foot model to counter previous replicas of the former president, which included a model of Mr Trump on the toilet, and that he hoped a stainless steel version would find its way into a future Trump presidential library.
"Two years ago, when I saw all those statues of naked Trump and Trump on a toilet, I said, 'You know what? I can do better,' " Mr Zegan said.
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