Melania Trump reportedly cut a deal with photo service Getty Images that paid her between $100,000 and $1,000,000 last year, NBC News is reporting. The deal stipulated that the service could only use such photos “in positive stories.”
According to Donald Trump’s most recent financial disclosure statement, in 2017 Melania earned at least $100,000 from the deal, and could have earned as much as a million — federal officials only have to give a range in their financial disclosure statements.
Specifically, the deal referred to 187 images of the first lady taken by Getty-affiliated photographer Regine Mahaux between 2010 and 2016. According to Newsweek, those photos consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Trump before he announced his candidacy, as well as “glamorous” shots of her posing by a pool, or with her son, Barron, or of their lavish New York City apartment.
The agreement stipulated that the photos could only be used in “positive stories.”
Among the news agencies that have purchased such photos are Yahoo News, NBC News, Marie Claire, the Daily Mail, the San Antonio Express-News, Houston Chronicle, House Beautiful, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Furthermore, one photo of the first family, taken by Mahaux, wound up in the 2017 White House calendar, which was at one time available for purchase in the White House gift shop for $14. The 2018 White House calendar does not include any Mahaux photos.
NBC News found at least a dozen organizations paid to use restricted images of the Trumps in 2017 that, thanks to an unusual deal with a photo agency, resulted in an indirect payment of at least $100,000 to Melania Trump. https://t.co/kMnkL6xpgU— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 2, 2018
As Newsweek notes, it’s not uncommon for celebrities to strike deals with photographers and image distributors that cut the celebrity in on the royalties. In fact, according to a 2014 Huffington Post report, it’s not uncommon for celebrities, or their publicists, to tip off paparazzi in exchange for some of the royalties. And at least one known Hollywood A-lister makes sure that he’s always photographed in such a way as to bring exposure to his sponsors as well.
“Ryan Reynolds routinely finds himself ‘captured’ eating Chobani yogurt, carrying a Burger King bag, smiling at a Nespresso cafe and caressing a Can-Am motorcycle, all in apparently preplanned shots.”
However, while deals like that aren’t unusual for celebrities, they’re unheard of for a sitting first lady. What’s more, such deals don’t necessarily stipulate the stories in which the photos can be used.
According to The Hill, several of the news organizations that used such photos of the first lady were not aware of the stipulation that the photos could only be used in positive stories.
Getty Images, for its part, refused to say if similar deals to the one Melania Trump has have been offered to other members of the Trump family.