The White House has reportedly crafted an agreement to keep the buyers of Hunter Biden's first-time art sales this fall confidential, suggesting that would solve ethics concerns.
Hunter Biden's art dealer Georges Bergès will keep the bidders and buyers confidential from even the artist himself under a deal between the president's son's lawyers and White House officials, and Bergès has agreed to reject suspicious offers, The Washington Post reported.
Hunter Biden's paintings are to be sold for between $75,000 and $500,000 this fall; he never has sold art before.
The White House believes the agreement will ease ethics concerns of a first-time artist selling paintings for high prices, despite pay-for-play schemes having long been a common tactic in China called "elegant bribery," according to The New York Times in 2014.
"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 White House press secretary Andrew Bates told the Post, saying the buyers' confidentiality would ensure the process is ethical.
But government ethics watchdogs and art critics are not buying it, according to the Post.
"The whole thing is a really bad idea," former President George W. Bush's chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter told the 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."
Painter added to the Post that a foreign government could send someone to buy the art to win goodwill from the White House, and the Treasury Department warned last year that high-priced art is notoriously difficult to track and potentially corrupt.
While the White House deal will reportedly keep buyers and bidders secret from Hunter Biden himself, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics under President Barack Obama, Walter Shaub, is skeptical.
"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," Shaub told the Post.
"What these people are paying for is Hunter Biden's last name."
Hunter Biden's first solo auction will sell 15 paintings from $75,000 to $500,000 in Georges Bergès' Gallery in Soho, New York, in October after a private viewing for VIP collectors in Los Angeles in September, potentially netting the president's first son millions as a first-time painter in an industry known for starving artists.
"A lot of people say they can paint and do sculpture, but what I was concerned about was whether Hunter's work would be authentic," Bergès, 45, told the New York Post.
"Everyone thinks that Hunter just landed on the art scene but this has been years in the making."
Bergès has helped Hunter Biden, 51, a self-taught painter, for three years, he told the New York Post.
"What interested me was whether the work was going to be honest — something that was really true to him and his journey," Bergès told the Post. "But as soon as I met him, I had a real connection with him and I felt I could work with him."
The above deal with the White House comes with the condition Bergès will reject suspicious bids and keep buyers' identities from Hunter Biden.
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