Melania Trump reportedly earned six figures from news outlets for stylized family photoshoot images

According to the deal, the images were only supposed to be used along with positive coverage of the Trump family

                            Melania Trump reportedly earned six figures from news outlets for stylized family photoshoot images
Melania Trump (Source:Getty Images)

First Lady Melania Trump has reportedly earned six figures from an uncommon deal with a photo agency ever since her husband, Donald Trump, took the office of the president of the United States. According to the deal, several major media organizations indirectly paid the first family despite a requirement placed that the images be used only in positive light.

The First Lady allegedly earned at least $100,000 from Getty Images for images from a series of 187 shots of the Trump family taken by Belgian photographer Regine Mahaux between 2010 and 2016.

It is very unusual for the wife of a public servant to earn royalties from photos of themselves, albeit several celebrities are known to charge agencies for their images. The point of outrage for the liberal media this time is the licensing agreement the first family signed with Getty, which dictates that the photos can be used in "positive stories only" — considering that major news organizations have used Getty Images for their coverage.

Melania earned anything between  $100,000 and $1,000,000 in photo royalties in 2017 from the Getty deal, according to the revenue statement in President Trump's May financial disclosure. Both Getty and the White House declined requests to provide more detailed figures or list the places the images had appeared in. According to the law, federal officials are only required to give an income range in their filings.

That being said, several organizations had paid to use Mahaux's restricted images of the Trumps in 2017, according to NBC News. Among those who featured Mahaux's highly artistic family portraits are news outlets such as Yahoo News, NBC News, Marie Claire, the Daily Mail, My San Antonio, Houston Chronicle, House Beautiful, and SF Gate, the website for The San Francisco Chronicle.

A gilded Mahaux portrait of the first family was featured in the February 2017 issue of the Russian edition of the fashion magazine Elle.

Several entities had used the said images before President Trump was sworn in, although no income from the Getty deal was itemized in any financial disclosure before 2017, according to NBC News.

A 2016 issue of the official Republican National Convention guidebook that was given to each delegate featured Mahaux's portrait of then-candidate Trump and his wife. The funds required to pay for the guide came from political donations to the Republican National Committee, according to campaign finance records.

According to Great Lakes Publishing, which produced the program, the image was received from a committee that was arranging the convention. A political consultant who ran the committee, Jeff Larson, said, "We didn't pay any royalties that I know of for that photo."

During the Republican National Convention, NBC Nightly News included the images in a segment on Melania Trump that aired July 18, 2016. The aforementioned pictures were also used by the French edition of Vanity Fair on the cover of its August 2016 issue.

In 2016, Fox News used some of the photos in a variety of news segments. An interview with the future first lady done by Greta Van Susteren on her show 'On the Record' featured two portraits of Melania shot and stylized by Mahaux. Then, after Trump secured the office of POTUS, Harvey Levin's show on Fox News, 'OBJECTified', featured two of her images in one of its episodes depicting the life and rise of Donald Trump.

According to a Fox News Channel spokesperson, the Mahaux photos used by Fox "were provided by the Trump campaign and Melania Trump's office, who told us they had full ownership and rights to the photos."

After said inquiries by NBC News, numerous news organizations took down the images from their websites.

Yahoo removed them and said in a statement: "We were not aware of this specific arrangement with Getty nor was our editorial influenced by it. We have removed the image from Yahoo Lifestyle."

It is being said that while news organizations would have been aware of the published mandate about "positive coverage" for the catalog, they would probably not have known about the indirect payments to the first lady. 

A media ethicist at the Poynter Institute, Indira Lakshmanan, said, "If I'm a news editor, I would use photos that don't have any restriction attached to them. There's a lesson for editors, for public figures. There are plenty of photos out there that you can use that don't have these restrictions."

A White House spokesperson said in a statement: "President Trump's recent Public Disclosure Report, which included information regarding Mrs Trump's income and assets, was filed after being certified by the White House Ethics Counsel and the Office of Government Ethics. The report speaks for itself."

Back in 2017, Mahaux told a French news outlet in 2017: "I like working with the family's image – it speaks to me. It inspires me."

She has been working with the family rather intimately since 2010, with several albums on the Getty Images website featuring her private photoshoots with the Trumps in the world famous Trump Tower.