Paul Manafort’s Shopping Sprees Hit Home

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In 2011, it was revealed that Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, had a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany & Co. that did not play well when he was preaching fiscal conservatism.

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Newt Gingrich at the 2016 Republican National Convention. In 2011, news that he had a $500,000 credit line with Tiffany & Co. raised eyebrows.

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Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Sarah Palin came under fire in 2008 when it was revealed that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on clothes for her and her family after she was chosen as the Republican vice-presidential candidate, belying her “hockey Mom” image.

And then, of course, there was Imelda Marcos and her shoes. Which is the issue: Such consumption patterns are more associated with a plutocracy (and those who identify with it) than with a democracy.

In that context, to spend enormous sums on appearance is not just indicative of a skewed value system, it’s morally reprehensible. It runs against a puritan streak that goes deep in American mythology. It’s the worst kind of gross excess and self-indulgence. It represents a focus on self to the detriment of the welfare of others, as well as some sort of embarrassing display of emotional neediness.

Because here’s the other thing: In the indictment, Mr. Manafort is listed as having spent $849,215 at the New York store and $520,440 in California, of which $128,280 was paid in one go in 2010. It’s really difficult to spend that much money on men’s wear. What was in his shopping cart?

Roger J. Stone Jr., a former Trump campaign consultant with his own style blog, told C-Span in 2016 that Mr. Manafort favored “custom Italian suits.” As a result, speculation has centered on brands such as Brioni and Kiton, favorites of James Bond as well as captains of industry, and where a made-to-measure suit can cost from $7,000 to more than $10,000.

But according to The A.P., Mr. Manafort’s New York tailor of choice was Eugene Venanzi, a store (now closed) off Fifth Avenue where suits cost $7,500. The A.P. also reported that Mr. Manafort’s Rodeo Drive emporium of choice was House of Bijan, a.k.a. “the most expensive store in the world,” where ties run $1,000 apiece.

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Mr. Manafort, seen here in New York City in June 2016.

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Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

But do the math. Even if Mr. Manafort bought 30 ties, that’s only $30,000. Add 50 suits, even at Kiton prices, and you are at just over half a million.

Say — for the sake of argument and spending money — you threw in some Berluti crocodile loafers ($3,380), a Rolex Daytona (there was some speculation on a watch blog that Mr. Manafort had one; prices can be in the $25,000 range), and an Hermès briefcase ($8,850). You still wouldn’t come close to the final tally.

It’s hard to make it all add up. Not only literally, but also because after all that, Mr. Manafort did not even look particularly elegant, as numerous commentators on social media have been quick to point out. Which makes it all seem even more disgracefully wasteful. Whatever he thought he was buying, it clearly wasn’t worth it. In any sense of the words.

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