Hunter Biden’s plan to sell his artwork at a private event later in the year has sparked concerns about its potential ethical ramifications.
According to The Washington Post, the private sale will be hosted in the fall. Despite being a self-taught artist with zero pieces on the commercial market, Hunter has set the price of pieces from as high as $75,000 to $500,000.
Art critics told the newspaper that Hunter’s prices could simply be explained by his last name, which they stated was most likely driving up the price. This has raised concerns that private citizens looking to gain favor with the Bidens could purchase the artwork for prices higher than the pieces’ actual worth.
Art dealer Marc Straus stated that “nobody” without professional training or experience in the industry could fetch prices that high for their first art show.
“My take was [the paintings] weren’t bad at all. But there’s a yawning gap between not bad and something fabulous,” he stated.
Further complicating the issue is the agreement Hunter made with private art dealer Georges Bergès, who will be managing the sale. The agreement, negotiated with help from the White House, maintains that the purchases will be wholly confidential, and not even Hunter will be privy to information on the prices the pieces will sell for.
Individuals advocating for the agreement, including a White House deputy spokesman, stated that such an agreement was the answer to the ethical concerns raised by the sale.
However, its critics, including former Obama White House ethics czar Walter Shaub, called the agreement a layer of secrecy that would stop ethics watchdogs from finding out which individuals were paying large sums of money to Hunter.
“So instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the WH tried to make sure we will never know who they are. That’s very disappointing,” he tweeted. “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. What these people are paying for is Hunter Biden’s last name.”
Richard Painter, former White House ethics chief who served in the second Bush administration, echoed: “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.”
Hunter’s attorney referred questions to the White House, which released a statement defending the agreement.
“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,” deputy spokesman Andrew Bates stated.