Ex-president of France generous to the Obamas
WASHINGTON — Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his supermodel wife, Carla Bruni, were clearly taken with President Obama and his family in 2011.
The Sarkozys gave the Obamas more than $41,000 worth of presents that year, becoming the most prolific foreign gift-givers to the first family, documents released Friday show.
The gifts ranged from designer golf and travel bags and fine crystal to soaps and perfumes, according to the State Department's Office of Protocol, which catalogs gifts to U.S. officials from foreign leaders and publishes an annual accounting, often one or two years late because of processing.
Among the goodies presented to the Obamas by the Sarkozys were a large black Hermes golf accessory bag worth $7,750, two Baccarat crystal table lamps on silver pedestals worth $5,500, two Baccarat crystal statuettes depicting golfers, a monogrammed black leather Louis Vuitton business bag, his-and-hers Christian Dior bathrobes and a black leather Dior clutch.
But don't expect the Obamas to furnish a post-White House residence with the items, because under law, most nonperishable gifts to the president and other U.S. officials must be transferred to the National Archives or General Services Administration unless the recipient reimburses the Treasury for their estimated value.
The Sarkozys' largesse may have been a function of France hosting the Group of Eight summit in 2011, at which the world financial crisis was a main topic of conversation, but most other leaders' gifts to the Obamas were more modest.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for example, gave the president an autographed Toronto Raptors basketball, while Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard presented him with a green and white iPod shuffle and Australian football jerseys.
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