Biden receives book signed by Joyce worth $3,500

By Charles Babington
Associated Press Writer / May 17, 2010

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WASHINGTON—Vice President Joe Biden didn't accept many gifts last year, but one involved highbrow literature.

Biden received a first-edition copy of "Anna Livia Plurabelle" signed by the author, James Joyce, and valued at $3,500. The story is a chapter from the Irish writer's famously complex novel, "Finnegan's Wake."

The giver was Margaret Spanel of Hightstown, N.J., a donor to Democratic candidates. The information was included in Biden's annual financial disclosure report, released Monday.

Spanel, 97, sent the book to Biden after hearing him say Joyce was his favorite poet, the vice president's office said.

The only other gift Biden reported was a free spot in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's charity golf tournament, valued at $750.

Biden and his wife, Jill, are wealthy by any national measure, but their holdings continue to be rather modest and plain-vanilla by Washington politicians' standards.

They reported total assets of $154,000 to $660,000. The exact amount is not divulged because the reports use broad categories for assets and liabilities.

Jill Biden held the couple's largest assets, two accounts worth $50,000 to $100,000 each in a Wilmington, Del.-based bank.

Most of the Bidens' other assets were spread among several checking accounts, retirement funds and whole-life insurance policies. They reported relatively few stock holdings, mostly in mutual funds.

The largest financial liability the couple reported was a home equity loan of $100,000 to $250,000. The disclosure forms do not require people to list the value or liability of their primary home.

For decades, Joe Biden ranked among the Senate's least wealthy members. In the White House, his wealth is modest compared with Barack and Michelle Obama's, reported to be at least $2.2 million.