First Lady Melania Trump toured a marble-bedecked and gold-plated Gilded Age mansion with her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe on Wednesday, amid the Japanese Prime Minister’s ongoing visit to the U.S.
While President Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe golfed at the president’s nearby country club, their wives visited Whitehall, a 75-room, 100,000-square-foot waterside retreat in Palm Beach, Florida.
Oil and railroad tycoon Henry Flager built the property as a wedding present for his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan Flagler. The Flaglers wintered there beginning in 1902, and it is now the centerpiece of the Flagler Museum.
Tour: First Lady Melania Trump toured a marble-bedecked and gold-plated Gilded Age mansion with her Japanese counterpart Akie Abe on Wednesday
Guide: Both first ladies were greeted by museum Executive Director Erin Manning who led them through Whitehall, a 75-room, 100,000-square-foot retreat in Palm Beach
Attire: The U.S. first lady wore a $1,100 emerald green dress by Derek Lam and designer heels during the visit, while Abe went for a dark dress with a floral print
Details: Trump kept her hair down in a blowout and wore her trademark smoky eye and nude lip
Arriving in a motorcade from Mar-a-Lago, the president’s own gold-plated mansion three miles away, Melania Trump and Akie Abe were greeted by Flagler’s great grandson William Matthews, and museum Executive Director Erin Manning, who led them through a tour of the home, which historians say cost $4 million ($110 million today) to build.
Unlike their husbands, who have a jovial, golf buddy relationship, the first ladies smiled politely, quietly asked Manning questions and walked formally during the parts of their tour visible to the U.S. and Japanese press.
The U.S. first lady wore a $1,100 emerald green dress by Derek Lam and snakeskin designer heels during the visit, while Abe went for a dark dress with a floral print.
Trump kept her hair down in her usual straight style, and also wore her trademark smoky eye and nude lip.
During the Abes’ visit to Florida last year, the first ladies visited a Japanese garden. They did not address reporters on Wednesday.
Family: The first ladies were also greeted by William Matthews, the great-grandson of oil and railroad tycoon Henry Flager who built the property
Tuning in: Trump listened as Manning told he rand Abe more about the luxurious mansion
Behavior: Unlike their husbands, who have a jovial, golf buddy relationship, the first ladies smiled politely, quietly asked Manning questions and walked formally during their tour
Pattern: The first lady paired her monochrome dress with a pair of snakeskin stilettos
Ride: She and Abe arrived in a motorcade from Mar-a-Lago, the president’s own gold-plated mansion three miles away
Historical: On Wednesday, Manning showed the first ladies the private railroad car Henry Flagler used to travel his Florida East Coast Railway, among other elements
Surroundings: Trump and Abe listened to Manning as they explored the inside of the residence
In high spirits: The first lady appeared to enjoy the visit as she flashed a bright smile
Jewelry: In the mansion’s music room, they viewed a portrait of Mary Flagler wearing a long-pearl necklace that Manning says is the most expensive piece Tiffany has ever created
Gorgeous: Photos of the visit showcase the luxurious elements of the Gilded Age mansion
Bringing it to life: Manning spoke animatedly as she detailed the residence’s history
The Japanese first lady caused a bit of a controversy last year when it emerged that President Trump was convinced she didn’t speak any English at all.
‘So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe, who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman but doesn’t speak English,’ he told the New York Times after a dinner in Germany among G20 leaders.
When reporter Maggie Haberman pushed him, asking: ‘Like, nothing, right? Like zero?’ the president answered: ‘Like, not “hello.”‘
But a clip of the Japanese first lady giving a 15-minute keynote speech on a prior occasion promptly surfaced, leading to speculation that Abe had pretended not to speak English so as to avoid speaking with the U.S. president.
Others, however, believed that Abe might not be entirely fluent in English and wanted to avoid making mistakes during the dinner.
Handshake: Trump also greeted Manning as they gathered for the tour on Wednesday
Acquainted: Both first ladies have attended events together in the past; the night before their visit, they had dinner at Mar-a-Lago with their husbands
Sunny: Trump and Abe were dressed appropriately for the Palm Beach weather, with temperatures reaching the eighties
Focusing: The American and Japanese first ladies appeared to listen intently to Manning’s explanations during the visit
Enjoying it: Both first ladies seemed happy to embark on the tour together
Schedule: Prime Minister Abe was pictured leaving Mar-a-Lago en route to Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach on Wednesday
Gathering: Trump and Abe also had a working lunch at Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday
Visit: The Trumps and the Abes had dinner together at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday (pictured)
On Wednesday, Manning showed the first ladies the private railroad car Henry Flagler used to travel his Florida East Coast Railway, the line that opened up South Florida as it stretched from Jacksonville to Key West.
They were also shown the bicycle-powered white wicker carriages the Flaglers’ guests used to traverse the grounds. Flagler also founded Standard Oil with John D. Rockefeller.
In the mansion’s music room, they viewed a portrait of Mary Flagler wearing a long-pearl necklace that Manning says remains the most expensive piece Tiffany has ever created.
Standing beneath a domed ceiling decorated with a reproduction of Guido Reni’s ‘Aurora’ and statues of cherubs, Trump and Abe listened as a pipe organist performed Verdi.
Both first ladies have been closely watched in recent months. Melania Trump is dealing with reports that her husband may have cheated on her shortly after their 2005 marriage and the 2006 birth of their son, Barron.
Meanwhile, Japanese newspapers alleged last month that Akie Abe helped a political ally purchase land for a private school at a steep discount. The Abes have denied involvement.