In exchange for a cryptocurrency token, you can own a digital watercolor of Melania Trump’s eyes.
The former first lady launched a project this week to sell NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, on her website for a Solana token, which is currently valued at about $180 each.
Melania Trump will release NFTs “at regular intervals” on her website, according to a press release, with a portion of the proceeds going to childcare. It’s not clear what percentage of the proceeds will be donated, or whether the donations will go to adoption charities for children. An email inquiry about how the donations are being organized went unanswered by Melania Trump’s press contact.
It’s a huge red flag, says Aaron Dorfman, president and CEO of the National Commission for Responsive Philanthropy, when a company says “a portion of the proceeds” will go to charity without specifically mentioning the amount.
“This means that philanthropy is not a serious part of their plan,” Dorfman said. “It’s a marketing ploy.”
The Trump family has a turbulent history with charities, although Melania Trump was not directly involved in a clash over a charity the family ran in New York.
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When he was still president, Donald Trump paid a $2 million court-ordered fine after admitting he used his charitable foundation as a personal piggy bank. He ordered the distribution of the fine to eight charities.
The Trump Foundation has been dissolved.
In addition, Trump has agreed to the restrictions if he is to establish a new charitable foundation, and New York State has required mandatory training for his children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, all of whom are involved in the Trump Foundation.
Non-fungible tokens are essentially digital certificates of authenticity that can be attached to art, music, or any other type of digital file. NFTs confirm ownership of the item by recording details on a digital ledger known as the blockchain, which is public and stored on computers online, making it impossible for it to be lost or destroyed.
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The digital artist who goes to Beeple sold NFT for nearly $70 million earlier this year. It sparked a huge interest in digital technology that has been around for several years, fueling the Bitcoin craze that has made blockchain a household word. Digital Cat figures have been selling in six-figure sums going back to 2017, and today you can buy a LeBron James NFTs digital basketball for anywhere from a few dollars to nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
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While it is often promoted as a fun hobby like collectibles because its values fluctuate, many treat NFT as an investment. Like cryptocurrencies, they are largely unregulated and many experts warn against pouring money into them.