We Got the First Look Inside Hunter Biden’s Hush-Hush Gallery Show, the Least-Seen, Most-Talked About Debut in the Art World
“All the prices he's worth right now, 10 years from now that's going to be a cheap Hunter Biden painting,” Georges Bergès said.
Hunter Biden’s New York art debut, months in the making, is a hushed and intense affair.
Approaching Georges Bergès Gallery in SoHo, you are greeted by a haggle of paparazzi parked outside. The door is locked and a security guard asks for your name before letting you in. It’s open by appointment only.
Titled “The Journey Home,” the show includes 25 works on canvas, metal, and Japanese Yupo paper. It may be one of the most talked-about and controversial art exhibitions in recent memory.
Concerns over conflicts of interest have reached the White House and the Capitol. The artist—the 51-year-old son of U.S. President Joe Biden—has been criticized and ridiculed by the conservative media and former President Donald Trump. His dealer, Georges Bergès, 42, has received death threats and the gallery was vandalized in July.
“It’s a very important exhibition for me because all eyes, like literally outside of the window, are on us,” Bergès told Artnet News at the gallery this week as paparazzi snapped photos through the glass.
The artworks pulsate with color, deep reds, ultramarine blues, and gold leaf. Most seem allegorical, steeped in mythology, symbolism, and personal history. Snakes twirl their bodies around totems. Dragons spit fire. Geometric forms float in space against densely patterned backgrounds. A solitary male figure is outlined here and there, at once part of and apart from this universe of symbols, shapes, and creatures.
Biden declined to comment for this article. He previously told Artnet News that “painting is much more about kind of trying to bring forth what is, I think, the universal truth.”
The show aims to present Biden as a serious, dedicated artist, Bergès said. “One of the things that I never anticipated was the political irrationality that people can have,” he said. “There are the blind, predetermined judgements, not just of Hunter, but of myself. If people objectively look at his work, it’s great work. And majority of people they come in and they’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect this!’”
The exhibition’s one-day viewing in Los Angeles earlier this month drew boldface names including the city’s mayor Eric Garcetti. The longer run in New York will be considerably lower profile due to safety concerns. After that, it will travel to Berlin, Bergès said.
The dealer’s main challenge, as he sees it, is to cut through the noise.
“I want art to transcend politics, and because of who he is, it’s been mired in politics,” he said. “I wouldn’t have gotten into this with him if I didn’t think that he was a great artist. I put my whole reputation on the line as well. So, I better make sure the exhibition is the best that it could be.”
Trump’s vitriol only helped raise awareness about Biden’s artwork and Fox News viewers are the biggest experts on it, Bergès said jokingly.
“In reality, if it wasn’t for Trump, you wouldn’t even know who Hunter was,” Bergès said.
He declined to speak about prices, but a gallery representative previously said the works were listed at $75,000 to $500,000.
Critics have raised concerns that lobbyists, foreign officials, and potential bad actors might seek to purchase a work in order to curry favor with the White House. In response to the show, Florida Congressman Mike Waltz introduced the PAINTER Act, which would require current and future presidents to disclose their adult children’s finances.
Amid the blowback, the White House confirmed that Bergès would keep confidential all information related to the artist’s sales, including prices and the identities of buyers and interested parties.
“The issue is not corruption, the issue is the name,” Bergès said. “There is no government process. I am an independent business. I answer to the laws that are set by Congress. I do my own due diligence. Nobody knows about the collectors. Only me.”
Bergès also insisted that the prices were set by him, not Biden. “You’re trying to assess the artist, his work and the potential that the artist is going to have,” he said. “And how confident are you? Because ultimately, I have to also be responsive to my collectors.”
He wouldn’t confirm sales, only saying that many works have been reserved and he’s “very satisfied with where we are at the moment.” He was also vague about his clients, noting they range from businessmen to homemakers.
“Mark my words,” Bergès said, “all the prices that people are saying he’s worth right now, 10 years from now that’s going to be a cheap Hunter Biden painting.”
All the scrutiny hasn’t dampened the spirits of the dealer or his artist. They talk on the phone many times a day—only about art—and have grown to become good friends, Bergès said.
Biden is currently working on a monumental painting, six feet tall and 25 feet wide, according to Bergès.
“I told him it’s so impractical, but he doesn’t care because the purpose is not for me to be able to sell it,” Bergès said. “And me as a dealer, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do with a piece that big?’ But you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to place it in a museum.”
The show runs through November 15 and Hunter Biden is expected to attend towards the end. But his parents, Joe and Jill Biden, won’t be checking it out, according to Bergès.
“It’s unfortunate that a father or mother can’t see his work,” he said. “But it’s the times we live in and it’ll become a distraction.”
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