According to a report in The Washington Post, the White House is working on an agreement to keep the sales of Hunter Biden’s artwork confidential.
The report, which was released on Thursday, states that the artwork could go for prices ranging from $75,000 to $500,000. Final sale prices would also be kept from the younger Biden to avoid potential ethical conflicts. Under the terms of the agreement, New York gallery owner, Georges Bergès, plans to set the value for each piece and reject offers he deems “suspicious” or those that come in far above the asking price.
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Bergès’ gallery website describes Biden as a “lifelong artist” who “incorporates oil, acrylic, ink, and the written word within his work to create a distinctively unique experience that have become signature Biden.” Biden’s art sale, set to take place this fall, has not gone without challenges and criticisms. Biden has previously been accused of inappropriately using his last name to his advantage, and these claims have been exacerbated by the fact that his works do not have a fixed value.
Some, like Walter Shaub and Richard Painter, believe foreign governments could use the sale to achieve closer access to the U.S. government. Shaub, head of the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017, said, “Because we don’t know who is paying for this art and we don’t know for sure that [Hunter Biden] knows, we have no way of monitoring whether people are buying access to the White House.”
Art purchases are difficult to track, and as the Department of the Treasury noted in October 2020, the anonymity of purchasers could allow foreigners to gain access to the U.S. economy. Richard Painter was the chief ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. He believes “The whole thing is a really bad idea. 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.”
Officials close to President Biden have attempted to create the agreement in a way that allows his son to pursue a career while also keeping with the President’s pledge to “reverse his predecessor’s ethical laxity, especially regarding family members,” notes The Post. Former President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter and her husband were top White House advisers over the course of his presidency.