Malia Obama, Barack Obama’s elder daughter, sparked rumors of a new love interest after she was photographed on March 29 strolling in the evening on the streets of SoHo, New York City, with a tall, dark, and handsome young man dressed in a trendy coat. The media dubbed the young man “mystery man,” but he was later identified by TMZ as Rob Franklin, a 2015 graduate of Stanford University, who works with the website Artsy in New York City.
Malia, 18, has been living in New York City for some months where she is currently doing an internship at the New York office of the producer Harvey Weinstein, as part of her gap year before she starts her fresh year next fall at Harvard University.
According to TMZ, Malia and Rob met in New York City at a Men’s Fashion Week event a few weeks ago and have been hanging out since then. The two were spotted together on the evening of Wednesday, March 29, strolling around SoHo in the company of a third person, a young female, believed to be Malia’s friend.
Malia Obama spotted with a guy in NYC
— OnoBello.com (@OnoBello) March 31, 2017
Although the pair did not indulge in any public display of affection, several observers noted that the photograph shows them walking close together, significantly closer than the third member of the group. The observation sparked fanciful speculation about the possibility of a blossoming romance between the young pair.
The photo shows Malia dressed in casual cuffed jeans, a red jacket, and white sneakers, while Rob was dressed in a long black coat with a belted waist, a pair of leather boots, and a beanie to match.
Media reporters immediately began digging into the background of the “mystery man,” and soon a mass of information about him had surfaced online.
— Only Everything (@Click_____Me) March 30, 2017
— Katty Perry (@LiveKattyHudson) March 30, 2017
Rob, a Stanford graduate, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 3, 1993, according to his Facebook page. Judging from the photograph he is a very tall man. He towers above Malia, who is about six feet, one inch in height.
According to TMZ, Rob’s circle of friends said they were aware that he was hanging out with Malia, but they insisted that the relationship was strictly platonic. However, several observers were not able to resist remarking that the two make a “striking couple.”
Rob graduated from Stanford in 2015, with a specialization in art, and since then, he has acquired a varied work experience. While he was in college, he participated in several school theater productions, including a lead role in Stanford’s 2013 musical production, Spring Awakening.
According to his LinkedIn page, Rob took several internships while he was a student at Stanford, including a desk internship for the National Public Radio in D.C. In the summer of 2014, he interned at the BuzzFeed’s editorial department and later at NPR, according to Heavy.
He currently works as an audience development manager with the website Artsy.net. Artsy maintains a database in partnership with top galleries and institutions around the world and “features the world’s leading galleries, museum collections, foundations, artist estates, art fairs, and benefit auctions, all in one place.”
— LIB Updates (@LIBUpdates) March 31, 2017
Artsy has an extensive database of more than 500,000 artistic images created by more than 50,000 artists.
Rob had previously worked for about a year-and-a-half as an associate consultant for Bain & Company, a New York company that describes itself as working with executives to “help them make better decisions and convert those decisions to actions.”
Rob’s LinkedIn account reveals that besides English, he speaks Spanish with “limited” proficiency. However, he speaks French and Chinese Mandarin with “professional” working proficiency. He reportedly attended Mandarin classes at Westminster Schools in 2013.
“Rob took the Chinese III course with me and he did a great job in this class,” his Mandarin teacher, Lily Liu at Georgia Chinese Language Educators, wrote in a recommendation for Rob. “I truly enjoyed the communicative competence in Chinese he displayed in my class. I love his sense of humor and his optimistic personality!”
Well, this might be the most hilarious headline: "Malia Obama Rocks Mini Dress Sans Tights In 45 Degrees After Right Wing Reporter Drama" pic.twitter.com/Ui50KCNgqh
— Lucian B. Wintrich (@lucianwintrich) March 28, 2017
He has written articles for the Stanford Daily. The subject of a 2012 article for the Stanford Daily was research in the field of tobacco ads. Also in 2012, while he was still a student at Stanford, he worked in New York as a summer teacher for the Partnership for After School Education.
He is a fashion and design buff and a regular at fashion shows and art galleries. He loves modern music. His Facebook page lists his favorite artists as Matt and Kim, Childish Gambino, Bon Iver, and Modest Mouse.
Malia and Rob obviously share a lot in common. Like Rob, Malia has also chalked up considerable experience in her chosen field, film and fashion. She spent the summer of 2015 on the set of HBO’s Girls and later on the set of Halle Berry’s sci-fi Extant, the Inquisitr reported.
[Featured Image by Pool/Getty Images]