Hunter Biden’s Art Dealer Has Reportedly Made an Agreement With the White House to Keep His Sales Top Secret
The goal is to prevent bad actors from purchasing Biden's art as a way to curry favor with the White House.
The White House has reportedly struck up an agreement with a New York art dealer over how, and to whom, Hunter Biden’s artwork can be sold.
Under the arrangement, Biden’s gallerist, Georges Bergès, will keep confidential all information related to the artist’s sales, including prices and the identities of buyer and interested parties, according to the Washington Post. The dealer will set the prices himself but allegedly plans to reject suspicious offers, even—or perhaps especially—if they come in above the asking price. Even Hunter Biden himself will be kept out of the loop.
The goal is to maintain an ethical barrier between President Joe Biden and his 51-year-old son’s burgeoning art career. It is an attempt to prevent lobbyists, foreign state officials, and potential bad actors from purchasing a work in order to curry favor with the White House.
For dealers, such secrecy around prices and buyers is common practice. However, in this case, some critics worry that the lack of transparency might actually encourage shady behavior, not prevent it.
“Instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the [White House] tried to make sure we will never know who they are. That’s very disappointing,” wrote Walter Shaub, director of the office of government ethics from 2013 to 2017, in a tweet today.
“The [White House] has outsourced government ethics to a private art dealer,” Shaub continued. “We’re supposed to trust a merchant in an industry that’s fertile ground for money laundering, as well as unknown buyers who could tell Hunter or [White House] officials?”
Shaub may be right about the hefty price tag required to score a Biden original. Bergès plans to mount a solo exhibition of Biden’s work in New York this fall, where prices will range from $75,000 for works on paper to $500,000 for large-scale paintings, the dealer told Artnet News last month.
Bergès did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did a representative for Hunter Biden.
In a statement to the Post, Andrew Bates, the deputy White House press secretary, said the dealer’s confidentiality would ensure that any sales are on the up and up. “The president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to rigorous processes like this is a prime example,” Bates said.
A former lawyer and lobbyist, Hunter Biden has turned to art in recent years as he’s retreated from the spotlight and undergone a number of personal struggles, including addiction and an ongoing criminal investigation into his former business practices.
A few pieces by the artist are currently hanging in the office of First Lady Jill Biden.
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