Former First Lady Melania Trump was likely the mystery buyer who sunk $170,000 on an NFT spiritually linked to her own white-brimmed hat, according to Vice.
Trump put the Solana-powered NFT up for sale in January. The winning bid would receive the hat Trump wore when she met French president Emmanuel Macron in 2018, a watercolor by Marc-Antoine Coulon, and a corresponding NFT “with motion.”
The series was named “The Head of State Collection.” All three items were to be signed, with a portion of the proceeds donated to “provide foster care children with access to computer science and technology education.”
Press materials bandied a potential $250,000 opening bid, valued in Solana’s native crypto (equal to about 1,800 SOL at the time).
Crypto markets were in the toilet at the time. Still, the auction was slow but the NFT eventually sold.
At a cursory glance, it seemed someone really wanted to “own” that picture of the famous woman and her chic headware. Stranger NFT things have happened in the past couple of years.
But now, Vice and independent blockchain sleuth “zachXBT” have detailed an odd series of transactions around the purchase that show the winning bid came from the address that created the auction.
Considering how much Trump loves that hat, that would be either the former First Lady or one of her people.
- The winning bidder received 1,800 SOL from an address (dubbed “Address X”) funded by the address that minted Melania’s NFT (having swapped $473,600 worth of USDC into SOL just before).
- Following the sale, the address belonging to the NFT’s creator returned 1,800 SOL to Address X.
- Address X then promptly changed SOL back into USDC.
Put simply, the top bidder received their funds from the NFT’s creator, who then returned the funds back to the address that funded the auction’s winner. The whole thing was apparently a fugazi.
Trump’s office declined to Vice’s request for comment on the convoluted web of payments and wouldn’t confirm who bought the millinery masterpiece, saying only:
“The nature of Blockchain [sic] protocol is entirely transparent. Accordingly, the public can view each transaction on the blockchain. The transaction was facilitated on behalf of a third-party buyer.”
Unanswered questions about Melania’s hat NFT
Technically, there are scenarios which could explain why Trump’s camp appeared to spend too much money on her own hat.
According to Vice, one such explanation could be that the SOL bids were lower than expected due to the ongoing crypto correction at the time.
So, one theory is that Melania’s team approved a non-crypto bid. That meant getting that fiat into the crypto ecosystem to submit the winning bid on the non-crypto bidder’s behalf.
But this wouldn’t explain why the previously mentioned “Address X” was needed at all, considering they initially funded the winning bidder only to have the crypto returned post-auction.
Speaking to Vice, zachxbt said the convenient non-crypto buyer theory was “not impossible but weird.”
“Why would [the auction winner] send the exact amount for a winning bid? Why was the money sent back to [Address X]?” they wondered.
In any case, if Melania’s camp really did fake the Head of State auction, it would be yet another example of wash trading within the NFT ecosystem, albeit from someone who once lived in the White House (on occasion).
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H/T: [Raw Story]