Fact Check

Did George Zimmerman Sell a Trayvon Martin Painting for $30,000?

Reports that Zimmerman had painted and sold a portrait of Trayvon Martin were fake news.

Published Apr 6, 2014

George Zimmerman sold his painting of Trayvon Martin for $30,000 at an online auction.

George Zimmerman is the controversial figure who fatally shot an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on 26 February 2012 and was subsequently tried (and acquitted) on charges of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

On 29 March 2014, the News Nerd web site published an article positing that Zimmerman had painted a portrait of Trayvon Martin with the words "Justice for All" included in the background and had sold it for $30,000 at an online auction:

George Zimmerman: "Everyone has been asking what I have been doing with myself. I found a creative, way to express myself, my emotions and the symbols that represent my experiences."George Zimmerman just can't seem to keep himself out of the headlines. Though controversy continues to surround his name, he has once again thrust himself into the spotlight.

The 30-year-old, oft troubled man, who was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, decided it was a good idea to paint a portrait of the teen with the words "Justice For All" transcribed in the background. It would seem that for many, "Justice For All" is exactly what Trayvon Martin did not receive.

To further muddy the waters, Zimmerman was able to garner a $30,000 bid for the painting at an online auction.

The article included an image of a smiling Zimmerman holding the artwork (reproduced above), and soon afterwards many online viewers encountered that image, and a short explanation of its putative origins, stripped of their original context and mistook them for reporting of a genuine occurrence. However, the article and its image were fabrications, just part of a spoof from The News Nerd, whose site carries a disclaimer stating that all its material is satirical in nature:

The stories posted on TheNewsNerd are for entertainment purposes only. The stories may mimic articles found in the headlines, but rest assured they are purely satirical.

The News Nerd article spoofed (and used an altered photograph from) news accounts from December 2013 reporting that Zimmerman had sold a painting featuring a blue, waving American flag with the words, "God, one nation, with liberty and justice for all" emblazoned across it for over $100,000 on the eBay auction site:

In September 2018, shortly after the airing of a six-part documentary television program called "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story," another altered version of this photograph circulated on social media. This time Zimmerman's flag painting was digitally edited to make it appear as if it were a painting of Martin's dead body:


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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