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Wait, Wait, Did Melania Trump Buy Her Own NFT?

It’s like a weird game of telephone, but with crypto.


If you know anything about what former first lady Melania Trump is up to nowadays, you know she’s taken a deep dive into the world of cryptocurrency — specifically by creating and selling non-fungible tokens, otherwise known as NFTs. Well, things just got a little awkward: Melania Trump’s NFT auction buyer’s account was reportedly the same as the account for the seller. Holdup... did the former FLOTUS buy her own NFT? This feels really messy.

Trump first announced her collection of NFTs back in December 2021, when she unveiled a piece titled “Melania’s Vision,” created by French watercolor artist Marc-Antoine Coulon. “I am proud to announce my new NFT endeavor, which embodies my passion for the arts, and will support my ongoing commitment to children,” Trump said in a Dec. 16 tweet. The NFT eventually sold for 1,800 SOL, which was worth around $170,000 at the time of sale, per The New York Times. However, according to a Feb. 8 report from Vice’s Motherboard, “the $170,000 purchase of an NFT collection auctioned by Melania Trump was made by the entity that originally put the NFT up for sale, according to blockchain records.” I only have one question: Huh?

In a Feb. 16 statement to Bloomberg, Trump denied the transaction came from her own office. “The nature of Blockchain protocol is entirely transparent,” she said. “Accordingly, the public can view each transaction on the Blockchain. The transaction was facilitated on behalf of a third-party buyer.”

OK, so this gets pretty messy, but bear with me. Apparently, Trump’s NFT sales weren’t doing so hot. Her “Head of State, 2022” collection, which was intended to open with a starting bid of $250,000, only received five bids for around 1,800 SOL (the value of cryptocurrency fluctuates, but it was worth about $170,000 as of Feb. 17). So, that’s about $80,000 less than expected.

And according to Bloomberg, it’s highly likely the winning bid either came from Trump’s own accounts, or from accounts closely tied to the former first lady. Basically, it looks like the account that was selling the NFT sent money to second account, which later sent it to a third account, which ultimately bought Trump’s NFT for 1,800 SOL. This third account was publicly listed as the winner of the auction on Trump’s website, per Bloomberg. Then, the first account — the one selling the NFT — sent 1,800 SOL... back to the second account, which was itself linked to the original seller. Embarrassing.

Every transaction across a cryptocurrency platform is tracked on a public record, which means the info is free for anyone to view and analyze, per Vice (which has a really thorough explanation of how the transactions get tracked, if you’re into that sort of thing). So essentially, it’s like playing some sort of weird telephone game by transferring money back and forth from different accounts — but instead of ending with a silly message, Trump may have wound up with her own NFT. This really feels like when you had to buy all your own brownies at the class bake sale so they wouldn’t be the last thing sitting, lonely and un-bought, on the sale table.

Thankfully for all of us who were not good bakers in middle school, it’s technically not illegal to buy your own stuff. But it might be a little tacky.