Hunter Biden’s struggled with addiction, published a new memoir, rode the coattails of his famous dad, and his romantic life is a tabloid playhouse, but he has found himself once again in the media… as a painter? We are all getting major Ukraine backdoor business deals flashbacks, as we watch another instance unfold of Hunter Biden making money off his fathers name. The White House defended Hunter Biden’s artwork deal which will be sold to “anonymous buyers.” The White House press secretary said in a briefing, the “system was organized to allow the troubled son of the president to work in his profession within reasonable protection.” The art deal raised numerous red flags by ethics officers, as it should, the art world isn’t known for it’s first class dealings or squeaky clean business.
How Will the Art Sell Anonymously?
Hunter Biden, 51, is suddenly an artist overnight and will be selling his work in upcoming exhibits in Los Angeles and New York. According to Artnet, Hunter Biden has no formal artistic training and only began working as an artist full time recently. The White House made arrangements to keep the names of the buyers “confidential” from Hunter Biden himself. Psaki maintains the sales of Hunter Biden’s artwork will be conducted by professionals with the highest industry standard and the anonymous nature of the transaction is intended to protect against “any improprieties.” Georges Berges, Hunter Biden’s art dealer, will host the private viewings of the “troubled sons” artwork. The price of his work ranges from $75,000 to $500,000. Bergès will set the prices for the art and conceal buyer records. Bergès, not the public, will be the only person able to scrutinize the transactions. Bergès has promised to refuse offers far exceeding the asking price or he deems suspect. Which is pretty suspect if you ask me. Bergès will be compensated for selling the paintings, according to his gallery’s spokesperson. He will retain a percentage from the sales like arrangements his gallery has with other artists; the spokesperson declined to provide the exact percentage. Typically, galleries take around 50% of a sale. This means it is not in Berges’ financial interest to “reject higher offers,” so why would he?
Is the Art Arrangement Ethical?
Walter Shaub, former ethics chief during President Obama, called out the White House in a tweet. He stated the Biden administration is ensuring we will never know who the buyers are. How can we ensure the same people paying outrageous sums of money for Hunter Biden’s paintings aren’t gaining special access to business dealings in or around the whitehouse? Shaub said this move is “very disappointing,” and “the perfect mechanism for funneling bribes” to the president. “They have outsourced government ethics to an art dealer. She mentioned industry standards,” Shaub said in reference to comments by White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “It’s an industry that’s notorious for money laundering. There’s no standards in that industry,” he said during the interview. “The idea that they’re going to flag any overly priced offers? Well, this is art that hasn’t even been juried into a community art sale. How are they going to decide what’s unreasonable when they’ve already priced it in the range of $75,000 to $500,000 for a first outing? This is just preposterous and very disappointing,” the Obama official said.
His point is absolutely correct, that’s way more than an up-and-coming artist without experience or sales under his belt should be selling paintings for.That is one of the reasons Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, says he’s uneasy about the arrangement. “I’m baldly surprised at the pricing,” he said. “That’s part of the appearance problem.” He went on to explain it didn’t matter who purchased the paintings, such high prices being paid out to a novice means Hunter Biden is profiting off his father’s name. This is an abuse of power, you can’t use your status to gain profit, you have to earn it correctly. Though, this would not be the first time the Biden’s were accused of it. Painter also worried, foreign governments could fund the purchase through a buyer or lobbyists could purchase the painting to win favor. Painter said ideally, Hunter would have waited to sell his paintings until his father left office, to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Since Hunter Biden is turning to this avenue to make a living right now, the buyers and prices for each painting should be disclosed and recused from any work with the administration. “I would not have chosen the secrecy route. I would have gone with the transparency route,” Painter said. On his first day as president, Biden signed an executive order requiring stricter ethics commitments from all administration personnel. Then, we have Hunter Biden’s private dealings leaving some critics expressing concerns that he was profiting from his father’s status.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Republicans criticized Hunter Biden’s business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company while his father oversaw U.S.-Ukraine policy. Former President Trump believed the Ukraine deal showed impropriety in the Biden family. Hunter Biden continued to defend his previous foreign business actions but told CBS News he would not make the Ukrainian deal again. If there was nothing wrong with the deal and it was not inappropriate, why would you not make it again? Oh… wait. Federal prosecutors also announced they had been investigating Hunter Biden’s taxes, beginning in 2018, in December. “My dad loves everything that I do, and so,” Hunter Biden told Artnet, “I’ll leave it at that.” Is that because everything you do enhances or in some way helps his bank account, as well as yours? Hunter Biden described his new found “artistry” as “getting to the truth.” A line which is slightly amusing given the scandalous affairs the President’s son is believed to have in motion. “I don’t paint from emotion or feeling, which I think are both very ephemeral,” Hunter Biden told Artnet in June. “For me, painting is much more about trying to bring forth what is, I think, the universal truth.”
Written by: Erinn Malloy