The Costliest U.S. Ambassadorship to Land Is … Luxembourg?

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This is a particularly competitive year for political donors who would like to turn their fund-raising into ambassadorships. Those who raised less than a million dollars for President Barack Obama's campaign probably won't even be considered. It raises the question: Just how much does an ambassadorship cost? While that's one few in Washington would like to touch, a couple of professors at Pennsylvania State University have tried to figure out the value of certain posts, based on the amount donated by those who've scored ambassadorships, compared with the desirability of the post in terms of the country's wealth, safety, and tourism.

In terms of wealth, Luxemborg came first, requiring a direct donation of $3.1 million, or bundling of $1.8 million. If you make tourism the prime factor, France and Monaco split first place, at $6.2 million in direct donations or $4.4 million worth of bundled contributions. The least expensive was Portugal, valued at $602,686 in direct donations or $341,160 bundled.

But it's an imperfect study, the authors admit. Ambassadors to Britain, generally considered the most prestigious posting, routinely underpaid for the job, at least by the study's metrics. That post goes for anywhere from $650,000 to $2.3 million. "What is more, there is no recorded political connection to members of the administration, nor do they bring special think tank-like expertise to bear on the posting," the study's authors wrote. That's got to make things even more frustrating for Anna Wintour.