Michelle Obama gifted Barack Obama with art by wrongfully convicted man

Valentino Dixon created a depiction of the famous Augusta National Golf Course's 12th hole for President Obama.

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Former First Lady Michelle Obama gifted her former-president husband a work of art from a man who spent 27 years in prison and was finally freed after being deemed wrongfully convicted. 

Valentino Dixon, 50, created a golf-themed painting for former President Barack Obama, a 20×30 depiction of the famous Augusta National Golf Course’s 12th hole, that was purchased by Mrs. Obama, who reached out to Dixon after he was profiled on an episode of Real Sports on HBO. 

In this 2018 photo, former First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Barack Obama share a smile at the unveiling of their official portraits at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Dixon shared the good news of his illustrious art sale on his Instagram page.

“Happy Holidays everyone,” wrote Dixon. “Michelle Obama purchased this Augusta National 12th hole 20×30 drawing for Barack as a Christmas gift.”

“It was an honor and a privilege,” he continued. “God is good.” 

In an interview with a local affiliate news station in his native Buffalo, Dixon revisited how Mrs. Obama emailed him to buy the painting. 

“She’s not too big to reach out to somebody on my level, who is really nobody in comparison,” he said, “so that’s just a great feeling.”  

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Dixon spent 27 years in prison after an anonymous tip identified him as the man who fired shots outside of a Buffalo restaurant in 1991. At the time, he was a young father of a six-month-old girl, who grew up without him. 

His lawyer never called eight witnesses who could confirm that he wasn’t the shooter. Another man later confessed to the crime. 

Dixon said he spent most of his time in prison “drawing my butt off.” 

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He ultimately refined his art after seeing a photo of a golf course by a prison guard. That led him to draw and paint other golf courses. He told reporters that he had only golfed twice in life before his incarceration. 

But Dixon’s affinity for drawing courses caught the eye of a writer for Golf Digest magazine, who ultimately wrote a lengthy article about him. That article caught the attention of law students from Georgetown University, who worked on his case and produced a investigative documentary about him. 

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He was freed in 2018.

Since his release, Dixon has devoted his time to his art and to being a good grandfather to his daughter’s children, in addition to “speaking at golf clubs, you know, just trying to inform people in the golf community about the issues in regard with prison reforms, because these are not issues that they would normally either know about or come into contact with.”

Says Dixon: “I am the link between the inner city and the golf course.”

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