Two years after ending his stint as a Ukrainian natural gas expert, Hunter Biden has a new calling: high-rolling artist.
Hunter’s first round of art sales, scheduled for this fall, will feature eye-popping prices ranging from $75,000 to $500,000 per piece, according to media reports. If those sound like exorbitant prices, that’s because they are. For comparison, many of Salvador Dalí’s originals have sold for less.
Let no one besmirch Hunter’s artistic aptitude, but he is certainly no Dalí: he has no formal training and has only been painting full time since last year, though he claims to have sketched off and on since age 7.
This New York Times article provides a sample of his artistic output. Reviewing his work, several professional critics described them with comments including “generic post zombie formalism” and “hotel art aesthetic … the most anonymous art I can imagine.”
So why would anyone pay six figures for his paintings?
We know why. Or, at the very least, we can narrow the answer down to two possibilities. The more generous interpretation is that Hunter is, once again, coasting off of his father’s name brand. The other possibility is that his art will serve as a convenient way for foreign interest groups to buy influence with the White House.
The latter theory is more than a little plausible. Art has long been an ideal conduit for financial corruption — the fact that its value is nominally subjective (remember the $120,000 banana?) allows for gobs of money to change hands without raising too much suspicion. The fine art world is, accordingly, a favorite haunt for money launderers.
Hunter’s upcoming art sale is, at best, terrible optics for his dad, and everyone knows it. In an attempt to assuage skepticism, the White House declared an “ethics plan” for Hunter in which his dealer, Georges Bergès, will keep the names and details of bidders and buyers entirely to himself. This will, in theory, prevent President Joe Biden from taking a liking to the people handing over big bags of money to his son.
In response to mounting scrutiny, White House spokesman Andrew Bates touted the plan, saying in a statement that “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.”
Included in the plan is Bergès’ pledge to reject any “suspicious” bids, including those well beyond the asking price, with the assumption that such offers could be bribe attempts. That raises an obvious question: isn’t a $500,000 asking price well beyond what art of Hunter’s caliber should be asking for?