Melania Trump has made a lot of money from a photo deal with the press

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Kayleigh Dray
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Melania Trump gets six-figure income selling photos to the press

President Donald Trump’s financial documents have revealed that Melania made a six-figure sum from photos used by news outlets and other private organisations.

An NBC News investigation has found that some news organisations indirectly paid first lady Melania Trump as much as $1 million (around £755,047) through the licensing of family photos.

However, these images reportedly came with a stipulation: that they only be used in “positive news stories”.

According to President Donald Trump’s most recent financial disclosure, Melania earned somewhere between $100,000 and $1 million in 2017 in royalties thanks to people licensing Belgian photographer Regine Mahaux’s 187 photos of the first family, shot between 2010 and 2016. 

The income stems from a royalties agreement that the FLOTUS struck with Getty Images.

For those who do not work in the press, it is worth noting that many news organisations use Getty Images to supply their stories with images, including Shortlist Media, Stylist’s parent company, which has a Getty subscription. 

The picture agency operates by licensing photos out for various uses, paying licence fees to the copyright owners of each individual image (usually the photographer, or the media company the photographer is employed by).

However, while Getty has said that any information about royalties paid to the first lady is private under confidentiality agreements, NBC has found that nearly a dozen publications have featured the highly stylised family portraits since Trump took office, thus making indirect payments to the presidential family.

This list includes NBC News itself, which says it “did not agree or sign a statement that the image would be used for positive coverage, and was never informed that a portion of the royalties would go to the Trump family.” 

Also included on the list are Yahoo News, Marie Claire, the Daily Mail, My San Antonio, Houston Chronicle, House Beautiful, and SF Gate, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle – many of whom have had limited access to the Trump family in the past. 

Indeed, NBC notes that many of these outlets took down the photos from their websites after the “positive stories only” stipulation was brought to their attention.

NBC also reports that Fox News used the photos in their news segments in 2016. However, a Fox News Channel spokesperson responded by statement, saying 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.”

Melania has yet to issue a statement in response to the NBC investigation.

Image: Getty Images


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.