“For that type of shoot, she was perfect,” said Antoine Verglas, a renowned French photographer who lives in New York.
The pictures of Melania in various forms of undress were featured in a British GQ cover article in 2000. None of the published photos showed full frontal nudity.
Since Trump launched his campaign, Verglas says he has had to threaten lawsuits to prevent anti-Trump websites from using the photos and has turned down “tens of thousands of dollars” to license the Melania photos to other magazines.
“I have to honor my commitment to this shoot,” Verglas told ABC News.
Should Trump win in November, his wife would become the only American first lady known to have posed naked for publication.
“There is nothing pornographic in an image like that,” Verglas said. “It’s a gorgeous image of her.”
Trump was not present for the session, which featured Melania, then Melania Knauss, as a "James Bond" femme fatale on the wings and inside the plane’s cockpit.
But Verglas said Trump was extremely supportive of her modeling career.
“There seemed to be a strong connection between the two of them. I think she was very mesmerized by him. And he was definitely, they seemed to be in love and have fun,” Verglas recalled.
And the photographer said Melania insisted there be no “full nudity” in the pictures used by the magazine.
“Melania was a very reserved person. She was definitely not someone who you would see in nightclubs or going out a lot,” he said. “Pretty down to earth, very nice, very warm.”
Verglas says he talked with her after the anti-Trump website used some of the magazine’s suggestive photos to assure her he had not authorized their use.
“It’s unfair to me. It’s unfair to the person who was photographed,” he said.