Artist Goes ‘Trumpster’ Diving at Taj Mahal

Photo credit: Elizabeth Lippman/for Peter Tunney

Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City was full of ornate décor. What came of the marquees, chandeliers, giant piano and concrete elephants when the hotel closed in October 2016? Artist Peter Tunney had a vision and created a new home for them—Miami Beach.

By turning one man’s trash into his treasure, he transformed the hotel’s artifacts into an installation called “The Sinking of the Taj Mahal,” which was on display at Faena Hotel in Miami during the Art Basel festival in December. The pieces were partially sunken in the sand.

“I’m a real dumpster diver. I love to take things out of some guy’s garbage on 80th Street and make some connection with it, and then you can turn it into something that will last for 100 years,” Tunney told Architectural Digest. “And this was the greatest pile I’ve ever walked into in my life!”

He explained to the magazine that he is friends with the property’s new owner, who hosted a liquidation sale last summer to clear out the remnants. The creative artist hit the jackpot and let his imagination run wild with the possibility of how to repurpose the furnishings and signage. Tunney has additional pieces on display at his gallery at Wynwood Walls, also in Miami, in a collection he calls “Excerpts from the Taj Mahal (The Truth Always Happens).”

“The show drew huge crowds and people really loved the show. Everyone understood the vibe,” Tunney tells Smart Meetings. “It was inspired by the Planet of the Apes. The exhibit was about shaking of the old ideas and how we conduct ourselves—and understand we need to be more mindful. This wouldn’t have been possible without the entire Faena team and vision. They are dreamers that make magic and visions. You walk into their hotel it was like Narnia and all [that] magic added to it.”

Come this summer, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be replacing Trump Taj Mahal on the boardwalk. The chain’s $500 million investment in the property will cover the costs of updating the facade, adding two performance venues and renovating meeting spaces. Former Trump Taj Mahal employees may get their jobs back by filling some of the 3,000 permanent positions available at Hard Rock, reports nj.com.

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