Melania Trump, Daily Mail Parent Settle Over Escort Story

Melania Trump has scored a victory over Britain’s Daily Mail, which apologized to the first lady Wednesday and agreed to pay damages over an article that suggested she once worked as an escort.

Trump sued the newspaper and its Mail Online website in February over the article, which appeared last August. A settlement was announced in a joint statement Wednesday from attorneys for Trump and for the tabloid’s parent company, Mail Media.

“The First Lady Melania Trump is very pleased that she has resolved this matter favorably with the Daily Mail, which has issued a full and complete retraction and apology for its false statements about her, and agreed to pay her million of dollars in damages and full reimbursement of her legal fees costs,” a representative said on behalf of the First Lady. “Mrs. Trump will remain vigilant to protect her good name and reputation from those who make false and defamatory statements about her.”

The Mail retracted its story, acknowledging that “these allegations about Mrs. Trump are not true….We apologize to Mrs. Trump for any distress that our publication caused her.”

The statement said that the tabloid had agreed to pay the first lady damages and costs, though the amount was not disclosed. The Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the settlement was worth less than $3 million. The original suit had sought compensatory and punitive damages of $150 million.

The offending article ran under the headline, “Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife’s past that could derail Trump.” Published during the heat of the U.S. presidential campaign, the report “questioned the nature of [Mrs. Trump’s] work as a professional model, and republished allegations that she provided services beyond simply modeling,” as the Mail’s statement Wednesday described it. The article also suggested that she and Donald Trump may have met three years earlier than they claimed and that they later “staged” a pretend first meeting as a “ruse.”

Melania Trump filed suit in London against the Daily Mail and in Maryland against the Mail Online. A Maryland judge dismissed the suit in February, saying it shouldn’t have been filed in the state. It was re-filed in New York three days later.

The filing argued that the Mail’s report damaged Melania Trump’s “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term.”

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Mass Appeal and Universal Launch Hip-Hop

    Nas, Mass Appeal and Universal Music Launch Hip-Hop Label in India, Sign Divine

    Mass Appeal and Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – a new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale. The new label’s operations will be based Universal Music India’s headquarters in Mumbai and will function as a multi-channel partnership between the two companies. According to the announcement, Mass Appeal India will sign and [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein, center, arrives to court

    Weinstein's Attorneys Seek to Move Trial to Long Island or Albany

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys want his rape trial moved to Long Island or Albany, citing the “circus-like atmosphere” surrounding the courthouse in Manhattan. Weinstein is set to go on trial on Sept. 9 on five charges of rape and sexual assault. The disgraced producer faces a potential life term if convicted. In a motion to the [...]

  • Edge, left, Adam Clayton, and Bono

    New York’s PlayStation Theater to Close (EXCLUSIVE)

    New York’s PlayStation Theater, a 2,100-capacity venue located in Times Square and operated by Bowery Presents, will close at the end of 2019, a source close to the situation tells Variety. The venue will close with a New Year’s series of shows from the Disco Biscuits. The theater, which is located two stories beneath the [...]

  • Courtesy of Earwolf

    How Lauren Lapkus Tossed the Script and Created a Podcasting Hit

    Lauren Lapkus has tossed the script on what makes most podcasts a hit. At a time when many of the most downloaded shows are true crime investigations or celebrity interviews, she’s doing something entirely different on each episode of “With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus.” Each hour-long installment is a free-wheeling, completely improvised ride. One show [...]


    WWE's 'NXT' Moves to USA Network as Wrestling Competition Heats Up

    WWE has struck a deal to move its “NXT” franchise focusing on rising stars to USA Network starting next month. “NXT” will shift to USA from the WWE Network subscription streaming service as of Sept. 18. The deal comes as USA is about to lose WWE’s “SmackDown” showcase to Fox starting in October. USA is [...]

  • Shazam

    Apple Music Launches 'Shazam Discovery' Chart, Focused on New Artists

    Apple Music today launched the “Shazam Discovery Top 50,” a weekly, global ranking of 50 artists that it describes as “on the move and trending” — in other words, new and emerging artists. While the company wouldn’t say much specifically about how the chart is tabulated, it uses “Shazam’s proprietary algorithms [to offer] a unique predictive view [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content