Hunter Biden is expected to sell some of his artwork this fall for as much as $ 500,000 – but he may never know who will buy it.
In recent months, White House officials have been working on an ethics plan to protect the identities of those bidding on the president’s son’s art, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The plan, which has been criticized by ethics experts, is intended to prevent a wealthy individual from rocking favors with Hunter or his powerful family by paying a handsome sum for the elusive paintings.
The event, the details of which the White House has not confirmed on the record, is designed to allow Hunter Biden ̵
White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement: “The president has established the highest ethical standards for any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to rigorous processes like this is a good example.”
According to the Post, the prices of Hunter’s art will be set by the gallery’s owner Georges Berges in New York. Berges has previously said that Hunter Biden’s works of art range in value from $ 75,000 for works on paper to $ 500,000 for his larger paintings.
Berges will reject offers that are suspicious or above the requested price, Posten reported, citing named individuals familiar with the event. The post quoted a person who initially identified himself as a call from Berges’ gallery, saying the process was not “anything out of the ordinary.” That person later refused to be named.
Hunter Biden’s abstract art has received mixed reviews. In June, The New York Post, which has been critical of Hunter Biden, published a story with the headline: “Hunter Biden’s art is actually good and will be very valuable, experts say.”
Mark Tribe, chairman of the MFA Fine Arts Department at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, told the tabloid that Hunter Biden’s work was “pretty strong.”
“The colors and the compelling organic forms – it’s the kind of organic abstraction that I find easy on the eyes and arouse your curiosity,” said Tribe.
But Jeffry Cudlin, an art professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, told the conservative Washington Examiner newspaper that Hunter Biden’s paintings should cost no more than $ 3,000, the kind of art “hanging over someone’s couch.”
“If Hunter Biden applied to the school to get a BFA in painting, I think a portfolio of these pieces in would indicate a certain sense of medium, some budding talent and encourage anyone who goes through it with a little practice and a little research, Maybe one day Biden could make some interesting paintings, ”said Cudlin.
The ethics scheme is the latest headache that Hunter Biden, who has been exposed to years of accusations that he has wronged his father’s position, has given the White House.
Last month, the Daily Mail tabloid published photos allegedly taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop that raised questions about whether his father helped him with his foreign business dealings while he was vice president. The White House has denied that Joe Biden discussed overseas business with his son. Hunter Biden is also facing a federal investigation into his tax cases.
While the White House appears to have difficulty creating a conflict-free way for Hunter Biden to sell his illustrations, the reported deal has been criticized by experts.
Walter Shaub, a leading ethics lawyer who served as director of the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017, wrote in a long thread on Twitter that the process of selling Hunter Biden’s illustrations was “very disappointing.”
“So instead of revealing who pays outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s art so we could monitor whether buyers get access to the government, the WH tried to make sure we never know who they are,” Shaub wrote.
“The idea is that even Hunter does not know it, but WH has outsourced government ethics to a private art dealer,” Shaub added. “We have to trust a merchant in an industry that is breeding ground for money laundering, as well as unknown buyers who could tell Hunter or WH officials? No thanks.”
Norm Eisen, a lawyer who served as ethical adviser to former President Barack Obama, was more sympathetic. Eisen told the Post that “the basic premise is that adult children are able to earn a living,” although he stressed that there should be significant distance between the sale and the White House.
“This means that things like the White House should not promote the art exhibition, which I do not know as far as I know,” Eisen told the newspaper.
While Hunter Biden kept a low profile during his father’s presidential campaign, Trump often tried to exercise his checkered past and fight drug and alcohol addiction against his politician father. Trump was indicted in 2019 after trying to get the Ukrainian government to investigate both Bidens. He was acquitted in 2020.
Hunter Biden’s new art career comes as he has tried to take on a bigger public role. Earlier this year, he published a memoir, “Beautiful Things,” which The New York Times described as “the family saga of equal parts, the tale of grief and the howls of addicts.” Despite slow sales, Hunter Biden has said he is working on a sequel to his memoir.
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