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Melania Trump insists a 'third party' bought her $170,000 NFT after paper trail raises questions | Daily Mail Online

Melania Trump insists a ‘third party’ bought her $170,000 NFT after paper trail raises questions | Daily Mail Online

Cryptocurrency sleuths have tracked down the buyer of Melania Trump‘s second NFT offering – either the former first lady herself or the creators of the project themselves.

Trump launched herself into the world of ‘non-fungible tokens’ at the end of last year.

She launched a website and a slate of auctions selling pieces of digital content, linked to the Blockchain, identifying the buyer as the owner of a piece of art.

Last month, her website revealed that a bid worth about $170,000 had won her first offering in the Head of State Collection, 2022 – a package that included a hat worn during the state visit of the French president to the White House in 2018, a watercolor of her wearing it and an NFT of the painting.

It was bought with 1800 SOL – a type of cryptocurrency. And a plunge in its price meant that the sale came in about $80,000 short of the goal.

Trump’s website published the address of the wallet that came up with winning bid, allowing internet experts to use the transparency of Blockchain transactions to trace where the payment came from.

Last month former First Lady Melania Trump auctioned off a hat she wore during the state visit of President Emmanuel Macron Of France and his wife Brigitte (seen her with Trump) in 2018, along with an NFT and a watercolor. It sold for 1800 SOL or about $170,000

However, internet sleuths traced the winning bidder’s payment and found that it was funded with cryptocurrency that came from a wallet owned by the seller

Analysis first published by MotherBoard found that the address that made the bid had earlier been funded to the tune of 1800 SOL from another address, which in turn was funded by an address that linked back to the creator of the NFT.

After the auction, the NFT creator then sent 1800 SOL back to the intermediary.  

‘In other words, the winner of Melania Trump’s NFT got the money from none other than the creator of the NFT itself, and an address linked to the NFT creator got the money back,’ it concluded.

Trump’s office said the arrangement was made for an outside buyer. 

‘The nature of Blockchain protocol is entirely transparent,’ her office said in a statement. 

‘Accordingly, the public can view each transaction on the Blockchain. The transaction was facilitated on behalf of a third-party buyer.’

One reason might be that the buyer is not a cryptocurrency user and instead paid with dollars which then needed to be converted into SOL.

Another explanation might be that it was an attempt to shore up the price when there was little interest.

Former President Trump last year said cryptocurrency was a ‘scam’ before later praising his wife’s NFT offering as epitomizing ‘our American spirit of ingenuity and entrepreneurship’

Carly Reilly, host of the ‘Overpriced JPEGs’ podcast, said the marketplace was filled with tales of rich sellers buying their own NFTs at artificially high prices – either to inflate the market or so they can sell the same piece on to someone who thinks they are getting a discount.

‘So my guess is that the Trumps are trying to save face by avoiding a super cheap sale and controlling the sale price themselves, and trying to up the future value of Melania’s NFTs by creating an artificially high benchmark price,’ she said.

The nature of the blockchain and the way it publishes transactions, she added, meant that this could be discovered so long as the buyer does their due diligence. 

This sort of ‘wash trading’ is banned in conventional securities markets – but is reportedly widespread in the trading of NFTs, which are bought and sold in an unregulated market.

Former President Donald Trump last year slammed the rise of cryptocurrencies.

‘Bitcoin, it just seems like a scam,’ he told Fox News. ‘I don’t like it because it’s another currency competing against the dollar.’

But in December he seemed to have changed his view.

‘The launch of Melania’s new NFT business epitomizes our American spirit of ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurship,’ he said.

Melania Trump insists a ‘third party’ bought her $170,000 NFT after paper trail raises questions

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