The former first lady’s NFT grift marches on, unfazed by allegations of double-dipping and also of being a tacky waste of everyone’s time.
You’ve almost — almost — gotta respect former first lady Melania Trump, if for nothing else than the sheer obstinate shamelessness embodied in her ongoing stab at digital relevance. Was the world clamoring for a Melania line of NFTs (a platform already riddled with grift and irrelevance) to begin with? Of course not. But here she is, selling them anyway — and not only that, but also allegedly sampling from her own stash, to the tune of multiple tens of thousands of dollars.
Why? Who can say. Truly, who can ascribe any sense of reason or logic to anything that family does? Whatever the reason for her steadfast commitment to her burgeoning line of beep-boop sales, it seems Trump’s first major NFT sale has been tainted by allegations of (gasp!) shady dealings (oh no!) in what is usually such a stable, aboveboard field.
According to analysis from Bloomberg’s Crypto desk, the winning bid of around $180,000 for last month’s “Head of State” collection was the result of a series of transactions originating from a crypto wallet associated with the very company that helped Trump list the offering in the first place. Suspicious, no?
Per the Trump camp, there’s nothing untoward happening here. Just hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of unregulated funds sloshing around “on behalf of a third-party buyer” who really, really, really wanted to own: “a White Broad-Brimmed, High Blocked Crown Hat, worn and signed by Melania Trump, Watercolor on Paper, signed by Melania Trump and Marc-Antoine Coulon,” and “Digital Artwork NFT with Motion, signed by Melania Trump and Marc-Antoine Coulon.”
It’s worth noting as well that the suggested starting bid of $250,000 listed on Melania’s website was considerably higher than the final sum collected (and potentially spent) by the Trumps. As Bloomberg’s analysts point out, the unregulated NFT and cryptocurrency market have enabled entities to artificially inflate the worth of digital assets through a process known as “wash trading,” wherein they buy and sell the same piece to increase its overall value. And if a Trump fudging their net worth to make a quick buck and inflate their perceived value seems familiar to you, well, congratulations, you’ve been alive and awake for the past decade or so.
Undaunted by the extremely plausible allegation of shady financial dealings, Trump on Thursday plowed ahead with the forthcoming launch of yet another line of intangibles, dubbed “the POTUS Trump NFT Collection.” This, per her announcement tweet, will “provide history fans the ability to purchase patriotic-themed collectables with immaculate provenance” — you know, stuff like digital pictures of the White House, or Air Force One, or Mount Rushmore. Really high-class, hard to find, collector item stuff.
I suppose there’ll always be enough people willing to shell out enough cash to buy enough of this stuff to make it worthwhile for the Trumps to keep selling it. And then, once all the crypto has shifted around and been flipped and washed and inflated or deflated in value enough, all the folks involved can walk away knowing that this has all been time and money well spent. Good work, everyone!