Melania Trump to auction off hat, NFT from Macron visit

Mrs Melania Trump, seen with the famed white hat, accompanied by French First Lady Brigitte Macron, in Washington, on April 24, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Former United States first lady Melania Trump announced on Tuesday (Jan 4) that she will auction off a famed white hat she wore in 2018, with accompanying physical and digitised NFT drawings.

The three "important one-of-a-kind signed items" commemorate an April 2018 state visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington - the first of the Trump presidency.

Bidding for this lot, called the "Head of State Collection", will be held online between Jan 11 and 25, using the cryptocurrency Solana (SOL).

According to Mrs Trump's website, where the auction was announced, bidding will begin at US$250,000 (S$339,000), currently equivalent to 1,416 SOL.

French-American designer Herve Pierre made the wide-brimmed hat at the request of Mrs Trump, who wore it as she accompanied French First Lady Brigitte Macron around Washington.

The autographed collection also includes physical and digital paintings of Mr Trump wearing the hat, both created by French artist Marc-Antoine Coulon.

The announcement states that a portion of the proceeds will go towards scholarships for children in foster care to learn computer skills.

Mr Trump's office did not immediately respond to an e-mail message by AFP inquiring about the size of the portion that will be donated.

In her first public project since leaving the White House, Mrs Trump announced last month that she would be joining the crypto trend by launching her own platform to sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

"I am proud to announce my new NFT endeavour, which embodies my passion for the arts, and will support my ongoing commitment to children through my Be Best initiative," Mrs Trump said in a statement at the time.

"Through this new technology-based platform, we will provide children computer science skills, including programming and software development, to thrive after they age out of the foster community."

Using the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies, NFTs transform anything from illustrations to memes into virtual collectors' items that cannot be duplicated.

NFTs rocketed into the mainstream last year and are now traded at major auction houses, generating several hundred million dollars in transactions every month.

Mrs Trump's first NFT was a watercolour painting of her blue eyes - also created by Coulon - entitled "Melania's Vision".

The painting was available for purchase through the end of last year for the price of 1 SOL, or approximately US$150 at the time.

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