French President Emmanuel Macron is facing criticism for his spending habits again — though this time, it has to do with a fancy set of plates.
Macron reportedly ordered a 1,200-piece set of china from Sèvres Manufacturing, a porcelain factory that creates intricate designs and has been the go-to company for French leaders since the 18th century, according to the New York Times. Sèvres is heavily subsidized by the state — it reportedly receives €4 million from the government — and Macron’s order “doesn’t represent any additional cost,” a company spokesperson told the Times.
And while it is common for new presidents to order their own sets of serveware for official dinners at the Elysée Palace and other events, Macron’s new plates come as he was already slammed for using a private plane to fly 68 miles earlier in the week.
The controversy surrounding Macron’s new set of China was initially sparked earlier this week by French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchainé, which estimated that it would cost €500,000, or about $580,000 — far more than earlier reports from the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that the plates would cost about $58,000. Le Canard Enchainé said it based its estimate on the fees associated with making the china, which can take up to five hours per plate, according to the Times.
“The precise total cost is unknown for the moment, but what is sure is that the final bill will be huge,” the satirical weekly newspaper wrote. “The painful bill should reach or even exceed half a million euros, given the current costs of manufacturing them.” It estimated the cost per plate was about €400, or $464.
The controversy over his plate order comes at a time when Macron is trying to distance himself from being dubbed “president of the rich” — even though he is also fielding criticism for a recent video that shows him casually discussing France’s welfare system with a team of advisers.
“Look, we put truckload of cash into [social welfare] and people are still poor,” he says. “You can’t escape it. People are born poor and they stay poor. Those who fall into poverty stay poor … they have to be able to get themselves out of it.”