When W. was packing up his belongings to vacate the White House for President Obama, he had to part with some very dear items, which—like the presidency—were his until noon on Inauguration Day.
A government ethics law prohibits state employees, including the president, from keeping gifts from foreign governments after they leave office. Only presents worth $335 or less can be kept once former commanders in chief return to the real world.
Records show that President Bush racked up a significant list of gifts, the value of which exceeds the legal limit. Here are some of the presents W. surrendered with his power according to The Washington Post:
- Gift: Montblanc pen ($495), Tournament Shortstroker fishing rod ($852), a collection of three paintings ($2,250), a riding coat, a cattleman’s hat and a messenger bag Giver: Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard
- Gift: bronze statue of a horse, in a leather box ($5,000) Giver: French President Nicolas Sarkozy
- Gift: a burgundy rug with blue, green, orange, and cream accents ($1,896) Giver: Turkmenistan’s president, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov
- Gift: a gold-plated tea set with images of dragons (teapot, six teacups, sugar bowl and cream pitcher), and an electric harp with speakerphone ($4,500—just the harp) Giver: Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet
- Gift: a dozen Moser crystal champagne flutes ($3,060) Giver: Czech President Vaclav Klaus
- Gift: a sapphire-and-diamond necklace, bracelet, earrings, and ring ($85,000) and a piece of artwork depicting a desert scene with Bedouins, camels, and a tent made of gold ($10,000). Giver: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud
Not all heads of state were as generous as the Saudi king. Former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin bestowed W. with a significantly humbler gift: hardcover books of English sonnets, one copy in English and one in Russian, and a copper-and-brass samovar (a Russian urn used to boil water for tea).
Bush might also be able to bring home some of the E. Marinella and Salvatore Ferragamo silk ties from Italian leaders Silvio Berlusconi and Romano Prodi. Or he could roll around his new Dallas house in the traditional Afghan white pantsuit and black-and-gold vest given to him by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
Well, before you start feeling sorry for the guy, know that he is not the only one to turn over expensive gifts racked up while in office. Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice also had to leave some $300,000 in bling behind.
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