Has Donald Trump taken the most iconic mugshot in history?

Donald Trump's mugshot
Donald Trump's mugshot Copyright Fulton County Sheriff's Office
By Jonny Walfisz
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The first ever mugshot of a US president is a significant image. It enters into the rather unique pantheon of historic mugshots.

Yesterday, the 45th President of the USA surrendered to Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia on charges of plotting to overturn the result of the state’s 2020 presidential election.


As part of his surrender, Trump had his mugshot taken. He has paid a $200,000 (€185,000) bail bond for his release as he awaits trial.

Trump’s mugshot has been a highly awaited affair on both sides of the political spectrum. Alongside the mugshots of his 18 co-defenders — including controversial lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — Trump’s image is a historical moment as it's the first time a president has been criminally charged.

His son, Donald Trump Jr. has described the picture as “the most iconic photo in the history of US politics”. Trump himself tweeted the image alongside the caption: “ELECTION INTERFERENCE, NEVER SURRENDER!” 

That’s despite his very literal surrender to Fulton County Jail.

To those on the left, the image is consistent with his pseudo-strongman character. Staring directly down the camera lens, his sneering grimace is an intimidation. Mugshots are rarely complimentary moments. Yet there is something particularly menacing about the sheer level of hostility in the gaze of the one-time “leader of the free world”.

For his supporters, this will be a crucial piece of iconography in the narrative of a political candidate beleaguered by a deep-state operating against him. Even if he is eventually found guilty, no amount of evidence-based proof will deter this group.

Either way, the first ever mugshot of a US president is a significant image. It enters into the rather unique pantheon of historic mugshots. 

While many will debate the greater significance, here’s our list of some of the other most notable mugshots in history.

David Bowie

Ewbank’s Auctions
David Bowie's mugshotEwbank’s Auctions

No, this wasn’t just a new character the chameleonic popstar inhabited. In 1976, the Thin White Duke was arrested after a concert in New York for marijuana possession with Iggy Pop.

Despite being taken in after two in the morning, Bowie still looked slicker than anyone who’s ever been photographed. Was this man completely incapable of not serving? Truly a superpower.


Lindsay Lohan

Santa Monica Police Department
Lindsay Lohan in 2010 (L) and 2013 (R)Santa Monica Police Department

We all know the story at this point. The child-star who went off the rails has had six mugshots taken. While there’s thankfully less appetite anymore for paparazzi taking joy in Lohan’s fall-from-grace, there is still reason to celebrate one of her mugshots.

Lohan’s most recent mugshot for charges of reckless driving and lying to law enforcement in 2013 though is just great. It’s been 10 years since her last mugshot, and Lohan dedicated to go out on a high.

Bill Gates

Albuquerque, New Mexico police records
Bill Gates in 1977Albuquerque, New Mexico police records

Did you know that the co-founder of Microsoft was once a badass? The dweeb-extraordinaire was once caught driving without a licence in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


A 22-year-old Gates was arrested in 1977, two years after he’d founded Microsoft. Although his dominance over the computer world was yet to come, the sheer joy in his face implies Gates knew that his fortunes were ascending even then.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Montgomery, Alabama police
Martin Luther King Jr.Montgomery, Alabama police

Let’s give credit where credit’s due. While this list started with a political figure charged with an attempt at disrupting a democratic election and has so far featured mostly pop-culture figures who’ve been caught red-handed, when King was arrested, he was doing the right thing.

The 1956 arrest of King was for instigating a boycott without “just cause.” The boycott in question: the Montgomery Bus Boycott against the racial segregation of buses.

Jeremy Meeks

Stockton Police Dept.
Jeremy MeeksStockton Police Dept.

Sort of an honorary mention here. Meeks wasn’t a celebrity when he had his mugshot taken. But he was one shortly after. Meeks was a member of the Crips gang and had been arrested for “felony weapon charges” when his mugshot went viral as the “hot felon”.

Meeks served 13 months of a 27-month sentence and left prison to a lucrative modelling career. He’s now a model and an actor. Don’t hold your breath for a Trump modelling career following his mugshot.

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