The White House has helped draw up papers designed to keep the names of people who buy Hunter Biden’s artwork confidential, The Washington Post is reporting.
The newspaper noted some of the artwork by the president’s son could be listed at prices as high as $500,000. But under an agreement the names of the buyers will be kept secret from even the artist himself.
The move is an attempt to avoid any ethical issues that could arise as a family member of the president attempts to sell a product with a highly subjective value, the Post said.
New York gallery owner Georges Bergès will set the prices for the art, but will withhold all records. The Post, attributing the information to sources, noted he has also agreed to reject any offer that he deems suspicious or that comes in over the asking price.
The Townshend Group, an agency representing Bergès, told Fox Business that sales are always confidential in order to protect the collector’s privacy.
The group added that "[P]ricing fine art in his experiences as a Gallerist is based on the demand of the work as well and the intrinsic value of it. His feeling is that within each piece – as with every artist, sales are always confidential to protect the privacy of the collector, this is standard practice for transactions in galleries as well as auction houses."
However, it is likely that the Biden family name will add significantly to the price, furthering potential corruption concerns. Alex Acevedo, owner of the Alexander Gallery in Midtown Manhattan, told the New York Post that "[H]e’s the president’s son. Everybody would want a piece of that. The provenance is impeccable."
Biden is set to market his abstract paintings in the fall for prices between $75,000 and $500,000, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
But the outlet pointed out that government watchdogs have said that foreign nationals or lobbyists could buy the artwork in order to gain influence with the White House. The Beacon said the watchdogs have urged the Biden administration to publicly release the names of any buyers.
"The whole thing is a really bad idea," Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, told The Washington Post. "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."
And Walter Shaub, who headed 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, "What these people are paying for is Hunter Biden’s last name."
Hunter Biden did not respond to a Washington Post request for an interview.
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