Getting his nascent art career off to a rollicking start, Hunter Biden has already sold at least five of his artworks for an impressive sum of $75,000 each, according to a report in the New York Post, a development that surely adds to the ethical headaches with which the White House continues to grapple over the first son’s highly questionable new endeavor.
The Post noted that the pieces at issue were sold by the George Berges Gallery in advance of a recent exhibition of Hunter Biden’s work in Los Angeles, where the president’s son rubbed elbows with a host of celebrities including luminaries from the worlds of sports and entertainment as well as from the established art world.
With some of Biden’s art predicted to sell for upwards of $500,000, despite his utter lack of training as an artist or prior experience in the realm, the White House has been hard pressed to address the obvious ethical concerns about potential influence peddling the entire arrangement presents.
Just days ago, CBS reporter Steven Portnoy raised the recurring question again with White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who took plains to deflect from the issue by saying, “We’ve spoken to the specifics that the gallerist has agreed to and what recommendations were made…I don’t have any other details for you from here,” referencing prior pledges that Hunter Biden would be unaware of the identities of those interested in his art and those who actually purchase it.
Even so, as the Washington Examiner notes, representatives from the New York gallery overseeing Hunter Biden’s art sales indicated this summer that the first son would indeed meet with prospective buyers, but added that “everyone will be vetted…so whomever is appropriate will be attending.”
Hunter Biden’s reinvention as an artist whose pieces are able to command eye-watering prices is a concept that has drawn intense scrutiny from a range of observers, with former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter saying, “The whole thing is a really bad idea. The initial reaction a lot of people are going to have is that he’s capitalizing on being the son of a president and wants people to give him a lot of money.”
Obama-era White House ethics chief Walter Shaub has also weighed in, opining, “the notion of a president’s son capitalizing on that relationship by selling art at obviously inflated prices and keeping the public in the dark about who’s funneling money to him has a shameful and grifty feel to it. He can’t possibly think anyone is paying him based on the quality of the art. This smells like an attempt to cash in on a family connection to the White House.”
Honing in the national security risks Hunter Biden’s art grift truly poses, Peter Schweizer of the Government Accountability Institute warns that the scheme is “genius level” corruption in that it provides an easily disguised conduit to the sort of money laundering and influence peddling with foreign oligarchs for which the art world is well-known.
With another exhibition of his work slated to take place in New York City this coming spring, it appears that Hunter Biden is poised to continue lining his pockets on the back of his family name, and, as has been the case with a number of his other dubious dealings, it remains doubtful whether he will ever be held accountable.