Swords, a portrait of a prince and a floor-length cape — these are just a few of the oddly captivating gifts President Barack Obama and his family received from an assortment of world leaders and foreign dignitaries in 2014.
The high-priced haul of several hundred presents, which was made public by the State Department last week, came in at a total estimated value of more than $1.5 million. But Obama, like any other federal employee, is legally barred from accepting any of it outright.
The President must reject the gifts, turn them over to the federal government or, should he choose to keep them, pay their fair market value. In the Obamas’ case, most of the items have been dispensed to the National Archives, while a few, including wine and perishables, are handled by the Secret Service.
The Saudi royal family is the most generous giver, accounting for about $1.3 million in goodies, with the late King Abdullah spending more than a million dollars on baubles for Michelle Obama. But that’s only the beginning. Here are the dozen most neatest gifts lavished on the first family last year. You can find the full government list at: https://www.federalregister.gov/
Surf’s up, First Dude
As summer neared, now-former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent Obama a “9.5′ white and blue longboard with friendship flags and the Presidential Seal.” To complete the image of cool, he threw in a pair of “black leather boots.”
A jeweled sword from Malaysia
The Malaysian king’s gift basket, valued at more than $8,000, included a steel-bladed sword with “a grip of polished wood carved in the shape of water fowl, held in a sheath of gold and silver with encrusted gemstones.” Also in the gift basket: Coins, a plate and a picture of himself and the queen.
A gift that’s green
Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny gave Obama a DVD titled “Sustainability Starts Here.” Kenny is expected to play an important role at the ongoing Paris climate summit.
A painting of men with swords
Former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica offered Obama a few paintings and a “cable-knit tan wool shawl with brown leather and suede accents.” And while there was no sword in this package, Mujica included some relevant imagery in the form of a 25″ x 35″ canvas print featuring a “pastoral scene of men with swords looking off into the distance.”
Don’t forget the girls
The late Saudi King Abdullah put together two spectacular jewelry sets for the girls — valued at $80,000 — featuring diamond and emerald and diamond and ruby earrings, necklaces, rings, brooches and wristwatches. (Abdullah died on Jan. 23, 2015, at age 90.)
On a more moderate scale but still thoughtful, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key spent about $800 on Sasha and Malia, sending the first daughters four sets of “knit gloves” and “felted hats” in mid-June, well ahead of the D.C. winter.
Weaponized artwork from Gambia
The Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, presented Obama with a “31″ x 31″ yellow and orange painting with a metal rod attached to top with spear heads on each end.”
You could find something like this on Amazon
The Sultan of Brunei offered an “automatic tea infuser in penguin shape with timer.” You can find one of your own on Amazon. Also included: a “…deep purple snakeskin design storage trunk with silver-tone fastener and handles.” A couple books, one cheese tray and a chess set later, the sultan had spent $1,277.89.
“Prince William” from none other than
From the UK, a “framed, matted and signed photographic portrait of Prince William” arrived, courtesy of none other than Prince William himself. The price: $888.
A million for Michelle
Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah sent First Lady Michelle Obama a “diamond and emerald jewelry set including necklace, earrings, ring, and bracelet” and later in the year gifted her a similar “diamond and pearl jewelry set including necklace, earrings, ring, and bracelet.” The two collections were valued at a combined $1.1 million.
A truckload of treats from Swaziland
King Mswati III of Swaziland sought to charm the first lady, though he chose to skip the baubles in favor of a comprehensive kitchen and dining set.
At an estimated value of $2,761, his majesty put together an interesting collection including a “bowl on a pedestal made of recycled glass, decorated with heads of a rhino, elephant, hippo, and water buffalo with a 6″ pedestal in the shape of a hippo. Two customized glass mugs with silver jaguar-shaped handles. Clear glass and metal drink ware set consisting of 8.5″ ice bucket with jaguar heads applied over glass knob handles, six 9.25″ goblets, each featuring silver-tone head of an animal, and set of six bottle stoppers of blown glass in the shape of an animal.”
For a caped crusader
Prince Miteb, son of Abdullah and head of the Saudi National Guard, presented the Obama family last month with a “robe of sheer white fabric with a beaded flower pattern and pink-purple trim.” The package also included an “orange sheer fabric floor-length cape,” and a “brown and blue paisley robe with satin purple lining and tassels.”
Estimated value: $39,915.
Don’t try to get this past the TSA
A pointed delivery came from Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, who provided the president with a “ceremonial dagger decorated with detailed silver work and coral stones.” A bargain at just $885.