It was a Trump empire that could have been.
When Melania Trump—model, designer, and wife to Donald—debuted her jewelry line on home shopping network QVC in 2010, the collection sold out in 45 minutes. Her beauty line, a series of $150 caviar-infused anti-aging creams, launched two years later. “It’s the Cristal of the face cream,” the New York Daily News raved at the time.
Today, “Melania Trump’s Luxe Moisture with Caviar Complexe C6™” is half-off at Lord and Taylor.
The Trump brand has had its fair share of failed business ventures. Trump’s Atlantic City casinos filed for bankruptcy for the fourth time in 2014. Trump Vodka went out of business in 2011, discontinuing its gaudy gold bottles. Trump Steaks, a boxed beef line sold in The Sharper Image home electronics stores, has ceased operations, leaving nothing but this incredible video of the Donald promoting his frozen meat blocks.
Add Melania’s business ventures to the litany of abandoned Trump projects. While QVC still sells some leftovers from her jewelry line on its website, the pieces have been out of production for years, Melania’s former employees say.
“We had an exclusive with QVC,” Marc Beckman, a business representative for Melania’s jewelry line, told The Daily Beast. “Although it was very well received, and had a great run with QVC, we elected to move on several years ago.”
But Melania’s skincare line, according to staffers, was doomed before it hit the shelves.
“Ms. Trump’s skin care line had been scheduled to launch in 2013, but was derailed due to no fault of Ms. Trump following a dispute between the company’s partners,” spokesperson Alan Garten told The Daily Beast. “The dispute wound up in litigation and less than a year later a federal judge ruled in Ms. Trump’s favor.”
The litigation in question was Melania’s decision to sue manufacturing company New Sunshine for $50 million in damages after they failed to promote the Melania Trump’s Caviar Complexe C6 line in stores. According to Melania, the firm’s feuding owners had neglected to advertise her product or stock it at major retailers.
But one of the firm’s owners argued that Melania was underqualified to produce a beauty line, and that his partner had only offered her a contract as a favor to the Trump family.
“Melania has the opportunity for New Sunshine to pay millions of dollars,” a lawyer for New Sunshine owner John Menard testified, “to try to promote her from being pretty much nothing other than Mrs. Donald Trump to actually being the ‘world renown businesswoman and celebrity’ they claim she is, though the data does not prove it.”
Only two of the line’s five products are available for purchase, both discounted at department store Lord and Taylor.
Even at a discount, the caviar-heavy products might be overpriced. Skincare experts like Linda Nelson question whether caviar can visibly improve skin quality.
“We are not fish eggs, so it’s better to put something on the skin that’s closer to human skin elements,” Nelson told The Daily Beast. “Caviar’s rich in amino acids, but not human based, so there’s little evidence on how it permeates the cells.”
The jewelry line has also been accused of cutting corners. Melania’s QVC line consists of, by her own admission, inexpensive versions of other high-end pieces she owns. These replicas are manufactured in China, despite her husband’s opinion that “China has rebuilt itself with the money it’s sucked out of the United States and the jobs that it’s sucked out of the United States.” (Donald’s now-discontinued clothing brand was manufactured in his also much-maligned Mexico.)
A Trump representative would not disclose whether Donald’s campaign had affected Melania’s jewelry or skincare sales. The jewelry line is still available on QVC, where reviews indicate a poor reception.
“I have purchased MANY products from QVC and this is, by far, the most disappointing!” a dissatisfied customer complained of the Melania Woven Design Two-Tone Collar Necklace, now 50 percent off at QVC.
“Not up to QVC quality,” another customer said of the Melania Pavé Style Crystal Curb Link Necklace, adding an accusation the Trumps rarely hear: