Despite the press release stating that bids using the SOL cryptocurrency to the equivalent of $250,000 would open the auction, the collection sold for the equivalent of $170,000 (at the time, 1,800 SOL) after five bids were made.
At the time of the auction there was a fall in the value of cryptocurrencies, including SOL, according to the New York Times.
Analysis from Motherboard reportedly links the winner back to the account that put the NFT up for sale.
As public blockchains allow people to “follow the money” due to transparency around blockchain addresses, Motherboard found that the auction’s winner had received 1,800 SOL on January 25th from an address they refer to as Address X. And address X was "funded" by the address that created the NFT.
After the auction, the NFT creator address reportedly sent 180,000 SOL back to Address X, before it was then converted into stablecoin USDC.
Motherboard Senior Editor Jordan Pearson explained: “In other words, the winner of Melania Trump's NFT got the money from none other than the creator of the NFT itself, and an address linked to the NFT creator got the money back.”
A statement from the Office of Melania Trump to Motherboard said that “the transaction was facilitated on behalf of a third-party buyer."
Although her office didn’t elaborate further, Pearson speculated that perhaps the winner doesn’t use crypto, and instead had Trump’s team complete the transaction on their behalf.
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