The former first lady launched a business this week selling NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, on her website in exchange for a Solan token, currently worth around $180 each.
Melania Trump will post NFTs “at regular intervals” on her website, according to a press release, with a portion of the proceeds going to foster children. It is unclear what percentage of the proceeds will be donated or if donations will go to specific charities for foster children. Melania Trump’s press contact did not respond to an email request about how the donations would be structured.
Aaron Dorfman, president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, says when a company says “a portion of the proceeds” will go to charity without stating the exact amount, “that’s a huge red flag. “.
Excited about this new venture, which combines my passion for art and my commitment to helping our nation’s children thrive… https://t.co/S6Bej3puHP
— MELANIA TRUMP (@MELANIATRUMP) 1639660503000
“That means charity is not a serious part of their plan,” Dorfman said. “It’s a marketing ploy.”
The Trump family has a troubled history with charities, although Melania Trump was not directly involved in a run-in over a charity the family ran in New York.
While still president, Donald Trump paid a $2 million fine after he admitted using his charitable foundation as a personal piggy bank. The fine was ordered to be split among eight charities.
The Trump Foundation has been dissolved.
#MelaniaNFT https://t.co/XJN18tMllg https://t.co/qMtVewbdpa
— MELANIA TRUMP (@MELANIATRUMP) 1639680382000
Additionally, Trump agreed to restrictions if he were to start a new charity or foundation and New York State required mandatory training for his children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, who were all 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 an item by recording details on a digital ledger known as a blockchain, which is public and stored on computers on the internet, effectively making it impossible to lose or destroy.
An NFT from the digital artist who goes by the name Beeple sold for nearly $70 million earlier this year. This has sparked a huge interest in digital technology that has been around for several years, building on a bitcoin craze that has made blockchain a household word. Digital cat characters were selling for six-figure sums as far back as 2017 and today you can buy digital LeBron James basketball NFTs for a few dollars to nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Although they are often touted as a fun hobby like collectibles because their values fluctuate, many treat NFTs as an investment. Like cryptocurrency, they are largely unregulated and many experts warn against putting money into them.