Diana Blakeney's portrait of Mervyn King

Portrait or bust: Mervyn King's £10,000 leaving gifts

The outgoing Bank of England governor was showered with leaving presents - including a portrait of himself.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 15 Aug 2013

What do you give the departing Bank of England governor who has everything? In the absence of a sudden ability to pull a full economic recovery of out its hat, the BoE chose to give Mervyn King… a £10,000 painting, a silver napkin ring, and a bust of a dead German politician. Who said economists aren’t sentimental?

The list of parting gifts for King, who stepped down in July, has come to light after MSN UK put in a Freedom of Information request.

The painting is a replica of a Diana Blakeney portrait of King himself, which is currently hanging in new governor Mark Carney’s office, while the napkin ring (worth £597) – a replica of those at the Bank – is apparently given to all departing governors. The bust is a sculpture of German politician and writer Johann von Goethe, worth £2,505. Apparently King’s family told the BoE that’s the sort of thing he’d like…

And unlike the soggy cake and bottle of Asti down the local that comprises most leaving dos, King was guest of honour at not one, but three farewell parties, which between them came in at a grant total of £10,000. £1,500 alone was spent on flowers and invitations.

King had originally said he planned a ‘grey gap year’, but has since decided to spend a year at New York University as visiting professor.

Fair enough: after 10 years grappling with the British economy, it’s probably best to keep busy. As King’s hero Goethe once said: ‘none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.’

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