Foreign leaders showered President Donald Trump and his family with more than $140,000 in gifts during their first year in the White House, with China and Saudi Arabia among the most lavish givers.
According to the State Department’s annual accounting of such gifts, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave Trump and first lady Melania Trump the two most expensive presents in 2017: an ornate calligraphy display and presentation box worth $14,400 and a porcelain dinnerware set that includes plates imprinted with the pink house at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort worth $16,250. Like all of the other gifts to Trump, his wife, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, those were turned over to the National Archives.
The Saudis and Gulf Arab states gave at least $24,120 in gifts to the Trumps. Those included a $6,400 ruby and emerald pendant necklace from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, a gold-plated fighter jet model worth $4,850 from Bahrain’s crown prince, a $3,700 bronze statue of three oryx from the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, a set of gold-plated Kuwaiti coins worth $1,610 from Kuwait’s emir and “royal” perfume in a reptile-skin carrying case worth $1,260 from the deputy prime minister of Oman.
Others in the Middle East did not stint when it came to presents for the first family, according to the 64-page list compiled by the State Department’s Office of Protocol, which is to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday.
The Trumps received a personalized hardcover book of Psalms worth $4,500 from the rabbi in charge of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, a gold and diamond necklace and similar pendant from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre valued at $5,800 and a mother-of-pearl Nativity scene worth $4,200 from the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem.
Even Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, before the Trump administration started a series of moves to downgrade U.S. relations with the Palestinians, was generous. He gave Trump and the first lady a copy of a neo-Byzantine Nativity scene, a half-length portrait of Melania Trump and photograph with a total estimated value of $6,770, according to the list.
Other world leaders who have fallen from Trump’s favor were among the 2017 gift-givers, including Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau. Merkel gave the Trumps Mont Blanc pens and paper worth $5,264; Macron a map from 1783 of the United States worth $1,100 and Trudeau a sandstone statue of a male lion wearing a crown valued at $450.
Some gifts seemed designed to appeal to the president’s ego. Those included a $1,880 gemstone portrait of Trump in front of an American flag from Vietnam’s prime minister and a photo album titled “President Donald J. Trump in New York” from Poland’s president that contains black and white photographs of the president and polychrome photos of Trump Tower and was valued at $850.
Clothing, art, jewelry and accessories were favorite gifts to the first lady from foreign leaders,
The wife of Japan’s prime minister gave her a $2,200 pair of Mikimoto diamond and pearl earrings and a $3,000 gold and acrylic painting, while Italy’s prime minister gave her a $3,400 Ferragamo handbag. Belgium’s prime minister and his partner gave Melania Trump two handbags from the designer Delvaux worth $1,020 and $2,273. Ivanka Trump also got a Delvaux handbag from the Belgian leader that was worth $1,023. Meanwhile, the Saudi government gave Melania and Ivanka Trump embroidered garments, including at least one abaya, worth $1,500.
Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, reported receiving only six gifts from foreign officials in 2017, the most valuable of which was a $3,630 fountain pen given to him by Jordan’s king.
This story has been corrected to change Abbas’ first name to ‘Mahmoud’ from ‘Mahmud’
SOURCE: MATTHEW LEE, AP