Fact Check: Does Photo Show Melania Trump Standing on Ivana Trump's Grave?

Amid the outpouring of grief and condolences for former U.S. President Donald Trump and his family following the death of his first wife, Ivana Trump, some speculative and misleading claims also emerged.

Ivana Trump died on July 14 at her home in New York City, and her funeral was held at Manhattan's St. Vincent Ferrer Church at 1:30 p.m. ET on July 20.

The 73-year-old was laid to rest at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, though initial reporting raised some doubts about the location.

But her death fueled other dubious claims and content, including a photo purportedly showing Trump's current wife, Melania, standing on the grave with a shovel.

melania, trump, twitter, facebook, donald, jr,
First Lady Melania Trump arrives for an event to celebrate the one year anniversary of the "Be Best" initiative in the Rose Garden of the White House May 7, 2019, in Washington, D.C. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The Claim

"Having the third wife standing on the first wife's grave and smiling is brazy!" a tweet posted on Twitter on August 1, 2022 said.

The tweet, which received more than 115,000 engagements since then, was accompanied by a photo supposedly showing Melania standing on a grave with a spade, with a sign marking the Bedminster resort seen in the background.

The same photo was shared widely on other platforms, including r/PoliticalHumor and other subreddits, but was not explicitly marked with a humor or satire label.

The Facts

The claim is false: While the of Melania Trump is genuine, it was digitally manipulated, with the background changed to add the gravesite.

As a reverse image search of the photo shows, the original version of the photo, without the grave behind the First Lady, has been around for a number of years.

In fact, it dates back to October 8, 2019 and was taken during the groundbreaking ceremony at a White House location.

"U.S First Lady Melania Trump takes a ceremonial shovel of soil during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new White House Tennis Pavilion on the south grounds of the White House October 8, 2019 in Washington, DC," the stock photo description states.

Melania Trump herself tweeted the image on her @FLOTUS Twitter account, which has since been archived by the platform, but can still be viewed.

The photo has been used in articles by dozens of news outlets, including the BBC, shortly after the event and in the ensuing years, and was attributed to the White House.

Notably, this is not the first time that this image was used misleadingly. Misleading claims that the First Lady had "dug up Jackie Kennedy's rose garden" had spread on social media in August 2020.

As these narratives resurfaced, some of them were accompanied by the photo, even as fact checkers had previously debunked the underlying claims.

Newsweek could not independently verify the author of the apparent photoshop job, though it seems likely that the image was made in jest.

But as has been demonstrated on many occasions previously, satirical content often gets hijacked online to support false or unproven claims, with potentially dangerous consequences.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False

False.

The image is manipulated. A real image of Melania Trump with a shovel in a White House garden was superimposed on a background featuring the late Ivana Trump's grave.

FACT CHECK BY NEWSWEEK