First Lady Melania Trump is no slouch. She pulled in between six and seven figures in a very unusual agreement with the news media. The news organizations did not have to pay for the stories. No, but they paid well for something else.
The Trump family is not supposed to be in the government to make a killing. Yet, the president, his eldest daughter Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner have all be rolling in the dough, so why should Mrs. Trump be any different?
Melania Trump earned a big pile of money from a strange agreement with a photo agency. Then, the media indirectly paid her for her photos through Getty Images, but there was a catch — the images could only be used for “positive coverage,” according to NBC news.
When POTUS released his latest financial disclosure, the public found out there was a striking line item. It appeared that FLOTUS sold 187 photos of herself and the family.
Belgian-born photographer, Regine Mahaux, lives in France, and she took the photos between 2010 and 2016. Celebrities can earn photo royalties, but the idea that the wife of an elected official took money for their photos is quite rare.
Even stranger, the news organization could not use the photos freely after paying for them. Instead, these photos were available to accompany “positive stories only.” The Getty licensing agreement with Mrs. Trump was strangely limiting.
According to the revenue statement in President Trump’s May financial disclosure, Melania Trump earned between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in photo royalties in 2017 from the Getty deal.
A White House spokesperson released a statement that read:
‘President Trump’s recent Public Disclosure Report, which included information regarding Mrs. Trump’s income and assets, was filed after being certified by the White House Ethics Counsel and the Office of Government Ethics. The report speaks for itself.’
Indira Lakshmanan, a media ethicist at the Poynter Institute commented:
‘If I’m a news editor, I would use photos that don’t have any restriction attached to them. There’s a lesson for editors, for public figures. There are plenty of photos out there that you can use that don’t have these restrictions.’
After NBC News released its report, a number of news organizations took down the photos from their websites. Yahoo was one of them and released a statement that read:
‘We were not aware of this specific arrangement with Getty nor was our editorial influenced by it. We have removed the image from Yahoo Lifestyle.’
Photographer Mahaux has worked for the Trump since 2010. Her photos include intimate photo shoots of the family at their home in Trump Tower. She said:
‘I like working with the family’s image – it speaks to me. It inspires me.”
Mahaux also and took the official White House portrait of Melania Trump. Of course, it belongs to the public and is not subject to the Trump licensing agreement.
Getty Images did not release the details, including how much the Trumps earned, because they are under a confidentiality agreement. All that was known about the images was that the news images business:
‘Contracted royalties back to the photographer and/or individual(s) as covered by their confidential agreement.’
A spokesperson for Fox News Channel also released a statement about the Mahaux images it used. Fox said:
‘(The photos) were provided by the Trump campaign and Melania Trump’s office, who told us they had full ownership and rights to the photos.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Molly Riley.