APThe State Department has released
its listing of gifts the White House received from foreign dignitaries in 2011, and it includes a pretty eclectic mix of strange and spectacular presents. The President doesn’t get to hang on to gifts valued over $350, but he won’t reject them either — as the report notes “non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to [the] donor and U.S. government — so they’ll head to a growing collection at the National Archives.
Quite notably, it was not the government of France that were the biggest gift givers, although they appeared on the list 16 times. Instead, that honour went to the tiny African nation of Gabon — which gave a mask sculpture with an estimated value of more than $52,000.
The print from the 'Pictures of Trash' collection, measures 51' x 40' and is titled 'Marat (Sebastiao).'
Inspired from 18th-century artist David's 'Death of Marat' painting, Muniz recreated the old painting using trash from a Brazilian landfill. He gave back most of the money he made from sales of the work to 'pickers' searching for recyclable materials.
He also gave five different personalised soccer jerseys from Brazilian teams, along with other Rio souvenirs.
Estimated value: $40,000
The German government gave a very expensive Bauhaus chess set designed by Josef Hartwig.
The set came in a carrying box with sliding top and featured a lightly-covered wood board and pieces carved into the shape they could move on the board.
Estimated value: $554
Qatar's Attorney General presented the White House with a wood display case containing a small sword.
The top of the case features the seal of the State of Qatar and reads, 'Fight Against Corruption.' The sword is on display in the White House Gift Office and was handled by the Secret Service.
Estimated value: $350
He also received a 19-ince bronze statue of a man riding a horse, presented in a brown suede bag.
Estimated value: $440
The Council of Traditional Chiefs and Kings of Cote d'Ivoire -- otherwise known as Ivory Coast -- gave the President a traditional Chief's robe from the Akan people.
There are about 9 million Akan people inside Ivory Coast, and they are known for their artwork, especially for the crafting of bronze gold weights, according to Saylor.
Estimated value: $450
The President received a bike made mostly from bamboo by Bambike Company -- a green company based in Gawad Kalinga in the Phillippines.
The company says they are a 'socio-ecological enterprise that hand-makes bamboo bicycles with fair-trade labour and sustainable building practices.'
Estimated value: $1,060
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a basketball signed by the entire 2010-2011 Raptors team, put inside a display case.
He also brought along a golden-framed antique map of 19th century North America, surrounded by drawings of native Americans, animals, and other images.
Estimated value: $1880
Then-South Korean President Lee Myung-bak gifted Obama acopy of 'The Uncharted Path: An Autobiography,' which details his life growing up poor after the Korean war and his rise from low-level job at Hyundai to eventually becoming CEO.
The haul included a Lacoste shirt, a 'Hope' fountain pen, a bottle of aged brandy, Luis Vuitton luggage, a handmade letter opener, and a 14-inch sculpture of Alexander the Great's horse.
Estimated value: $15,083.62
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