It's been a while since the Elysee Palace ordered new crockery. Some of the plaques in the French presidential residence date back to the 1950s and certain pieces are missing.
So President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte disbursed $ 58,000 for a new set of 1,200 pieces, which includes 300 bread plates and 900 presentation plates.
The Sevres porcelain factory is responsible for making the plates for the Elysee Palace, and the cost will come out of its annual budget, which is partially funded by the French Ministry of Culture. The factory has supplied plates to the Elysee since the nineteenth century, and the price paid by the president, said the Elysee, will go to the artists who designed the new plates.
But on Wednesday, the satirical newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné claimed that the plates can actually cost more than $ 580,000. The newspaper publishes some works of fiction, but has a history of exposing scandals and overthrowing French politicians. And, according to his analysis, painting a single plate by hand would cost at least $ 465. (Other French publications have estimated it to be roughly half).
The accusations come at an inopportune moment for Macron. On Tuesday, his office posted a video on Twitter in which Macron says France is spending "crazy money" on welfare. "We must prevent poverty and make people take more responsibility of themselves to get out of poverty," he said.
Those statements alone caused a frenzy in social media. Then, the plaque scandal broke, and French citizens mocked the discrepancy between Macron's potentially luxurious spending and his criticism of welfare programs. Many responded with images of their own dishes, announcing the price and asking why Macron could not have bought them at Ikea.
"Hello Emmanuel Macron", the comedian and prankster Rémi Gaillard posted on Twitter. "Are you really going to eat in dishes of 420 euros? I just left the supermarket, where the most expensive dish costs 4.50 euros." He added a hashtag that translates to "fairy dust," a reference to when Macron used the term to describe the promises of far-right politician Marine Le Pen about the election campaign.
Another person tweeted that to avoid spending "crazy money" on the dishes, he just looked around his basement and found one. "What would happen if you did the same in the Elysee?" He asked, adding that it is probably worth saving 500,000 euros.
The United States had its own presidential scandal when First Lady Nancy Reagan spent more than $ 200,000 in China for the White House during a recession. It cost almost $ 1,000 per configuration, and she funded it with donations sent to the White House Historical Association.
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