The top Republican on the House Oversight Committee wrote a letter to Hunter Biden’s art dealer requesting communications between the two as well as information about the individuals interested in purchasing the younger Biden’s paintings.
Representative James Comer (R., Ky.) said in a press release that the high prices sought by dealer Georges Bergès for Hunter’s paintings and buyers’ anonymity raise ethics concerns. Bergès, who once expressed a desire to become China’s leading art dealer, has priced the paintings from $75,000 to up to $500,000.
“Mr. Biden made clear his opinion of those who would evaluate his motives, saying “f— ‘em” on a recent podcast,” Comer wrote. “This is an insult to all other artists—those who have trained and worked for years to establish themselves in the art world. Given Mr. Biden’s previous roles as lawyer, lobbyist, and ill-defined executive for an international fossil fuel corporation, the latest chapter in—as you describe it—his “heroic journey” is subject to skepticism.”
According to a deal arranged by the White House, Bergès would conceal the buyers’ identities from Hunter and from the public at large.
“Though the White House has attempted to allay concerns about the appearance of selling access to the president by developing guidelines for your gallery, these guidelines actually create more obscurity for the buyers of Mr. Biden’s compositions,” Comer said. “It is the Oversight Committee’s responsibility to scrutinize Mr. Biden’s business activities because he chooses to conduct them in the most murky and corrupt corners of international affairs.”
Former Office of Government Ethics chief Walter Shaub has also repeatedly criticized the arrangement, saying in July that it was “the perfect mechanism for funneling bribes.”
“Let’s talk about the magnitude of this,” Shaub said in an appearance on Law & Crime’s Objections podcast in August. “That’s $6.5 million going to the president’s son for being the president’s son, not for being an artist and I just think that’s absolutely appalling.”
Hunter is expected to meet with potential buyers of his paintings prior to sales, CBS reported in July. White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended that decision, saying that Hunter will not be discussing details of the sales with potential buyers.
Hunter will not “have any conversation related to the selling of art. That will be left to the gallerist,” Psaki told reporters. “We believe that this is a reasonable system…that allows Hunter Biden to work in his profession with appropriate safeguards.”