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Melania Trump Has an Exclusive Photo Licensing Deal With Getty Images for Positive News Stories

Like husband, like wife.
Melania Trump, Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 25: (AFP OUT) First lady Melania Trump attends a meeting with King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of Jordan in the Oval Office of the White House on June 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

First Lady Melania Trump has an exclusive photo licensing deal with Getty Images for use in “positive stories only.”

Mrs. Trump licensed 187 photos to Getty Images as part of a royalty deal reportedly earned between $100,000 and $1 million in royalties from Getty in 2017.

NBC notes that, according to President Donald Trump’s most recent financial disclosure, the First Lady “earned at least $100,000 from Getty Images for the use of any of a series of 187 photos of the first family shot between 2010 and 2016 by Belgian photographer Regine Mahaux.”

While it’s not unusual for celebrities to earn royalties from photos of themselves, the outlet observes, “it’s very unusual for the wife of a currently serving elected official.” Federal officials are only required to give an income range in their filings, and both Getty Images and the White House have declined to provide more specific figures. Both also declined to provide a list of where the images appeared.

The arrangement is not necessarily illegal. Getty did not disclose that royalties would be paid to the Trumps, and NBC News noted that most first ladies donate proceeds from book deals or similar arrangements to charity. However, the president’s refusal to release his tax returns makes it impossible to know whether his wife followed suit.

NBC News found at least a dozen organizations that had paid to use Mahaux’s restricted images of the Trumps in 2017, which meant the first family benefited from the deal indirectly.

Places where Mahaux’s images have appeared include:

  • NBC News
  • Yahoo News
  • Marie Claire
  • The Daily Mail
  • My San Antonio
  • The Houston Chronicle
  • House Beautiful
  • SF Gate
  • The San Francisco Chronicle
  • the February 2017 issue of the Russian edition of Elle
  • the May page of the White House 2017 calendar that was on sale in the White House gift shop for $14. (Bent Publishing which publishes the calendars, confirmed that it licensed the Mahaux photo for the 2017 calendar and the 2018 calendar, which is now on sale, does not feature any Mahaux images.)

The news quickly opened up the First Lady to a slew of criticism.

A White House spokesperson directed NBC News to the president’s financial disclosure forms. Mahaux herself declined to answer questions from the outlet, only saying that “everything is legal.”

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