Ooh La La: Sarkozy Gave the Obamas $42,000 Worth of Swag


Friday, the Federal Register released a list of all the gifts that foreign leaders gave President Obama in 2011. His haul included a basketball signed by the Toronto Raptors (from the Canadian prime minister), more than a dozen Brazilian soccer jerseys (from the governor of Rio de Janeiro), a pretty sweet-looking eco-friendly bamboo bike (from the ambassador of the Philippines), and an array of rugs, paintings, and statues.

Presumably the president smiled and said thank you to all these presents, because, as the Register dexplains, “Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and US Government.” Even if Obama liked any of the gifts, he’ll never get to use them: They all go to the National Archives and eventually, to his library and musuem.

French president Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, made the rest look like cheapskates. They gave the first family more than $42,000 worth of French luxury goods including purses, perfumes, goblets, a Lacoste polo shirt, bath robes, and a Hermès golf bag worth $7,750. Some of the more insane gifts the Sarkozys gave the Obamas:

His and hers bathrobes
From the official description: “His and hers white, belted Dior bathrobes with ‘Dior’ embroidered on the breast pocket.”

Hermèseverything
From the official description: “Large, black Hermes golf accessory bag including set of lock and key, and extra strap in bottom compartment, presented in cream colored drawstring bag.”

The Sarkozys are partial to the French luxury brand. Other Hermès gifts: A $7,500 golf bag, a golf “travel bag” (there’s a difference? Apparently there’s a difference.), a travel case, a scarf for Michelle, and a cotton beach towel, which retails for around $600.

A $400 lighter and pen
From the official description: “Limited-edition ‘HOPE’ fountain pen and Ligne 8 lighter from S.T. Dupont, each in a cherry blossom design, and contained in a 6.5″ x 6.5″ black box with ‘G8 France 2011’ on the top.” A nod to POTUS’s cigarette habit, perhaps?

lighter

AZ Fine Time

Baccarat crystal lamps
From the official description: “Baccarat ‘Our Fire’ clear full-headed crystal table lamps on silver pedestals with silver and crystal lampshades in red presentation box.” Estimated value: $5,500.

lamps

Baccarat

Grooming products
More than $800 worth of goodies from the Paris perfumeries Frédéric Malle and Bonpoint.

The kicker? Despite its first couple’s lavish taste, France actually spent less on its gifts than Brazil or Gabon president Ali Bongo Ondimba, who gave the president a 14-inch blue mask sculpture worth more than $50,000.
(h/t National Journal)

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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