First lady Melania Trump reportedly made six figures in royalties after some news organizations indirectly paid the Trump family by using restricted photos of her.
The first lady reportedly made as much as $1 million total last year for photos that were only supposed to be used for “positive coverage.”
According to President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure forms, Melania earned between $100,000 and $1,000,000 from Getty Images. Anytime someone used a photo, from the 180 licensed photos of the first family, the royalty went to the first lady.
The photos were shot between 2010 and 2016 by Belgian photographer RegineMahaux, who also took Melania’s official White House portrait. They include a wide range of posed photographs of the first lady, the president and their son, Barron.
Each photo in the gallery also has a restriction that it should be used for “positive stories” only.
Nearly a dozen news organizations including NBC News, Yahoo News, the Daily Mail, Fox News, Condé Nast and the Houston Chronicle have used the restricted photos.
After the NBC reported the issue, most of the news organizations removed the photos from their platforms andsaid they were not aware of the restrictions of using the photographs.
Getty Images on the other hand said the amount paid to the first lady is private under confidentiality agreements.
In a normal agreement, the photographer gets a royalty and the agency receives a fee every time the photo is used. However, models in the photos don’t receive royalties.
The first lady’s agreement has two problems: a) it restricts the user to use the images for “positive stories” only and (b) the royalties of the photographs are paid to the Trump family.
The agreement is unusual given it involves the first lady herself. These types of contracts are not unusual when it comes to celebrities or high-profile figures but for someone, who is in the public office, to earn thousands of dollars is highly critical.
“It’s something I’ve never come across before stated so specifically, but it’s not unusual to require photographer and publicist approval of photos from the Getty Contour collection,” said HuffPost photo editor Chris McGonigal.
The contract once again ignites the debate of conflict of interest.
Trump entered the presidency with a major conflict of interest problem given his huge business empire. Not only is he the first president to never have held any kind government of military office, he also has a massive real-estate and investment empire that opened a Pandora’s Box of conflicts of interest the moment he stepped into the White House.
And now the first lady’s unusual agreement raises further questions.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: JabinBotsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images