Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration has reportedly helped his son, Hunter Biden, create an agreement that will allow buyers of his suspiciously expensive artwork — which could be listed as high as $500,000 — to remain completely secret from the American people.
“Under an arrangement negotiated in recent months, a New York gallery owner is planning to set prices for the art and will withhold all records, including potential bidders and final buyers,” The Washington Post reported. “Biden’s art sale, expected to take place this fall, comes with potential challenges. Not only has Biden previously been accused of trading in on his father’s name, but his latest vocation is in a field where works do not have a tangible fixed value and where concerns have arisen about secretive buyers and undisclosed sums.”
Ethics officials, including Democrats, have slammed the administration for the move, noting the highly suspicious nature of the work given the fact that Hunter Biden is not a famous artist and that he will be charging extremely high prices for his work.
“The whole thing is a really bad idea,” said Richard Painter, a former White House ethics official. “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. I mean, those are awfully high prices.”
The deal, according to The Washington Post, will keep the purchases secret “from even the artist himself.”
The Post added:
But the arrangement is drawing detractors, including ethics experts as well as art critics who suggest that Hunter Biden’s art would never be priced so high if he had a different last name. Bergès has said that prices for the paintings would range from $75,000 to $500,000.
A foreign government could front someone to make a purchase, Painter said, or lobbyists could try to buy the art to win goodwill from the White House. Art purchases are notoriously hard to track, and last year the Treasury Department warned that the secondary market for high-value art, and the anonymity of purchasers, could allow foreigners to circumvent sanctions and gain access to the U.S. economy.
Marc Straus, owner of a high-end art gallery in New York City, told the Post that “nobody would ever start at these prices” in the world of high-end art, especially when the person has no professional training and has never sold art professionally.
“There has to be a résumé that reasonably supports when you get that high,” Straus said. “To me, it’s pure ‘how good is it and what’s this artist’s potential, what’s the résumé?’ On that basis, it would be an entirely different price. But you give it a name like Hunter Biden, maybe they’ll get the price.”
“My take was [the paintings] weren’t bad at all,” he added. “But there’s a yawning gap between not bad and something fabulous.”
Others, like Scott Indrisek, a former editor in chief of Modern Painters magazine and a former deputy editor at Artsy, blasted Hunter Biden’s “art,” saying that it was hotel-level art.
“I would call it very much a hotel art aesthetic. It’s the most anonymous art I can imagine. It’s somewhere between a screen saver and if you just Googled ‘midcentury abstraction’ and mashed up whatever came up,” he said. “If he wanted to be judged on your work alone, he’d show them under the name Hunter Wilson or something.”
This report has been updated to include additional information.