From colonial-style hats to the now-infamous “I really don’t care” jacket, Melania Trump’s wardrobe has been a talking point throughout her time in the White House.
And her fashion choices are back in the spotlight after the former first lady decided to auction the wide-brimmed white hat she wore when she and Donald Trump made their first state visit to the presidential residence.
The hat was created by French-American designer Herve Pierre specifically for Emmanuel Macron’s arrival ceremony at South Lawn in April 2018 and “attracted media attention around the world,” according to a press release from Melania Trump’s office in January, in which the online auction announced.
The so-called Head of State Collection sale included what has been described as “three important signed one-offs”: the hat, a watercolor she is wearing by Paris-based artist Marc-Antoine Coulon, and “an exclusive digital artwork NFT featuring Move”.
“Victim of the Crash”
The auction started on January 11 and was set to open with a minimum bid of $250,000 (£186,000). Bids “were only accepted in the Solana blockchain cryptocurrency called SOL, which was trading at around $170 per token at the time,” the New York Times (NYT) reported.
But the former first lady’s “much-discussed” online sale has become “a victim of the cryptocurrency market crash,” the paper said.
SOL had “enjoyed the title ‘Ethereum Killer’ until a few weeks ago,” The Economic Times said, referring to the popular rival cryptocurrency. But along with many other digital currencies, SOL has “lost its mojo.”
When the auction ended early Wednesday, each SOL was worth about $95.
Only a handful of bids appear to have been made, “each hovering around the required minimum bid of 1,800 Solana tokens,” the NYT said. The final listed bid was roughly $170,000, “with the exact dollar value fluctuating along with the volatile crypto market.”
The “deflated results” are likely to disappoint Trump, “who may be sticking with Solana tokens and hoping for their value to rise,” the paper continued. But “the decline in value could continue, leaving her with even less revenue.”
The former first lady “had promised that a portion of the proceeds — not all, but a portion — would go toward helping children in foster care learn something vague and indefinite about computers and technology,” Robin Givhan wrote in the Washington Post .
But Trump didn’t say “how much of the proceeds she will keep for herself,” the NYT reported. NFT-backed cryptocurrency auctions have “become a magnet for celebrities,” including Justin Bieber, Lindsay Lohan and Snoop Dogg, the newspaper added. Trump held another NFT auction in December, where virtual watercolors of her eyes, titled Melania’s Vision, sold for $150 each.
But “it remains unclear whether the virtual currency system is reliable enough to build a profitable business.”
break with tradition
The then-first lady’s choice of the “flashy” French-design hat to meet the French president in 2018 marked “one of those rare occasions for which Trump seemed to dress with diplomatic foresight,” Robin Givhan said in the Washington Post.
However, critics argue that their decision to sell the hat was less well-considered. An anonymous former Trump-era White House aide told CNN, “It’s unseemly. She’s trying to build a nest egg based on a role the American people have chosen for her husband.”
Traditionally, “much of a first lady’s wardrobe” is cataloged and archived during her time in the White House and later “donated to a presidential library or museum,” according to the broadcaster.
While Trump has every right to sell items from her collection, “this is contrary to what other former first ladies have done,” said Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the Lyndon B .Johnson Foundation supported. Johnson Presidential Library.
Trump’s predecessors generally “donated items to the national archives and presidential libraries in the interest of preserving history and returning it to the American people,” Updegrove added.
CNN contacted Trump’s office “in large numbers” to clarify how much of the proceeds from the hat sale would go to charity, but reportedly received no response.