Hunter Biden will meet prospective buyers before he auctions his art this fall, despite the White House’s promise that sales will be anonymous. Fresh accusations of corruption have been leveled at the Biden family.
Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, says he took up painting while recovering from a crack cocaine addiction. When news broke that he was planning on selling these paintings at a show in New York later this year, the Biden administration headed off conservative outrage with a convoluted scheme that it said would stop buyers using the sale to purchase favor from the Bidens.
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“After careful consideration, a system has been established to allow Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier this month. Psaki said that a gallery owner would price Hunter’s art, that the identity of buyers would be kept secret from Hunter and his family, and that bids above the asking price would be rejected.
Not any more. Hunter will in fact meet potential buyers before his paintings go to sale, CBS News reported on Wednesday. Georges Berges Gallery spokeswoman Robin Davis told CBS that Biden will be at two shows before the sale, one in Los Angeles and one at the Georges Berges Gallery itself in New York.
Davis said that attendees at the shows will be “vetted,” the White House said that “the president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history,” and a source told CBS that “Hunter Biden will not discuss potential purchases, prices, or anything related to the selling of artwork.”
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Yet the public will never know what Hunter and the buyers discuss. These discussions will be beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act, and the deal announced by Psaki includes no enforcement mechanisms. Regular Americans, who haven’t actually seen the ethics deal itself, are being asked to trust the White House and the Bidens at their word.
Conservatives are skeptical. “Turns out those ‘anonymous sales’ will be anonymous to everyone BUT Hunter Biden and the buyers,” Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R) tweeted. “Sounds pretty shady to me.”
“Sounds like a very ethical and anonymous art sale!” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R) tweeted.
“Hunter Biden will meet with prospective buyers of his absurdly overpriced, presidency-profiting art,” tweeted Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration. “Good grief. The president has such a blind spot on this issue. I really hope he and his son come to their senses.”
Anybody defending this should just stop. Its ridiculous, period. Idc what Trump and his brood did. And lets be clear, even if he wasn’t having events with the anonymous bidders, all any of them would have to do is tweet “I bought Hunter’s painting” and whoops no longer anonymous. https://t.co/nRsqZtzDTC
— Stephen White (@sgw94) July 21, 2021
So Hunter Biden will appear at his art shows in LA and NY. If he’s meeting with potential buyers, how will their identities be kept secret from Biden? POTUS? or the White House? and how will it not look like buying influence? https://t.co/voczj2Tzsl
— Anna Wellisz (@Anna_unbound) July 22, 2021
Hunter’s art itself has received mixed reviews. Multiple critics and experts told the New York Post that the works are “pretty strong” and “compelling.” However, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Sebastian Smee told CNN last week that the paintings are “nothing much to see,” and “you wouldn’t, unless you were related to the artist, spend more than $1,000 on it.” Nevertheless, the first son’s paintings are expected to sell for as much as $500,000 a piece.
Flogging art at this price wouldn’t be the first time Hunter has been handsomely rewarded for work with no prior experience. During his dad’s tenure as vice president, Hunter Biden raked in $50,000 per month on the board of directors of a Ukrainian energy firm, despite never working in the energy sector before. While on the board he introduced his father to a Burisma executive who asked him for “influence.”
Hunter Biden also got involved with business ventures in China, according to leaked emails, seeking tens of millions of dollars for “introductions alone,” with 10 percent of one proposed venture kicked up to “the big guy,” an apparent reference to Joe Biden.
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