Foreign leaders showered President Barack Obama and his family with hundreds of thousands of dollars in art, jewelry, rare books and other presents during their first year in the White House.Saudi Arabia's king was the most generous gift-giver, according to documents released by the State Department on Tuesday.Saudi King Abdullah gave Obama, his wife and daughters nearly $190,000 in luxury baubles in 2009, including the single most valuable gift reported to have been given to U.S. officials that year: a ruby and diamond jewelry set, including earrings, a ring, a bracelet and necklace, for the first lady worth $132,000.But don't be looking for the first lady to be wearing the dazzling gems anytime soon. By law, most gifts to U.S. officials must be turned over to the government and the jewelry has already been sent to the National Archives.In addition to the ruby and diamond jewelry, the Saudi monarch presented Michelle Obama with a $14,200 pearl necklace. He gave the president a marble clock adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels valued at $34,500. He sent first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama diamond earrings and necklaces worth more than $7,000.Senior White House officials were also recipients of King Abdullah's largesse, with top aides like national security adviser James Jones, David Axelrod, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarrett and spokesman Robert Gibbs receiving watches, cufflinks, pens, earrings and bracelets valued at between $5,000 and $9,000.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
From Matthew Lee of The Associated Press on Jan. 18: