According to The Times, a framed photo of an Edinburgh mural depicting anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass that Johnson gave Biden as part of their “special relationship” rituals was printed from a free-to-use photo published on Wikipedia.
Douglass was a former slave who became a leading figure in the 19th century abolitionist movement in the US. He travelled to Ireland and Great Britain in the 1840s on a speaking tour. The mural in Edinburgh was painted in 2020 by artist Ross Blair, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, and the photograph depicted was taken by Melissa Highton.
The snap of the mural is registered as free to use on stock image sites such as Alamy.
Meanwhile, Biden gave Johnson a custom-made bike and even threw in a hemet.
Stephen Bilenky, an award-winning bike maker in Philadelphia, said he was contacted by the US Department of State requiring a custom bike in a red white and blue colour scheme.
“It is a very modern version of an upright British roadster with a custom paint scheme with the Union Jack flag and a matching helmet,” he told The Times.
Carrie Johnson received a leather tote bag made by military wives and a presidential silk scarf.
The Johnsons also gifted Biden signed first edition of ‘The Apple Tree’, a novel by Cornish author Daphne du Maurie which is available online for £40. The gifts were exchanged to mark the pair’s first meeting.
The apparent disparity in gift-giving prompted a wave of cringing on Twitter:
And it is not the first time the special relationship has been tested by awkward present exchanges.
Gordon Brown once gave Barack Obama a pen-holder made from the timbers of an anti-slaving ship – the sister of a ship used to build the Oval Office desk – only to receive a set of DVDs which couldn’t even be played in the UK.
Meanwhile, David Cameron gave Obama gifts of albums by The Smiths, Lily Allen, Radiohead and Gorillaz before he became President, the New Statesman reported.
Indy100 has contacted Number 10 and the Foreign Office to see what they have to say on the matter.