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Douglas Andrews / September 9, 2021

Hunter Biden’s Shady Art Hustle

House Republicans see plenty of potential for corruption when a president’s son hawks his work to anonymous buyers for outrageous prices.

It’s a great grift if you can get it: Trading off your dad’s name to sell “artwork” for outrageous prices — artwork that normally wouldn’t get noticed at the local craft show. As grifts go, it’s even better than using the family name to sell a book about what a privileged and pathetic life you’ve lived.

But don’t worry. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tells us that Hunter Biden’s latest swindle is an ethical one, and that “appropriate” and “reasonable safeguards” are in place to ensure that it remains so. As for critics of this arrangement, and critics of Biden’s ability to command between $75,000 and $500,000 for his masterworks, he has just two words: “F*** ‘em.”

Is this a great country or what?

Kentucky Congressman James Comer thinks so, which is why he’s written a letter to the New York art dealer committed to selling these Picassos in China and elsewhere. Indeed, that dealer, one Georges Berges, has previously said he wants to be the art world’s “lead guy in China.” Comer, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, smells some impropriety here, especially given the younger Biden’s earlier influence-peddling arrangements with the communist Chinese.

“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,” writes Comer to Berges. “Moreover, he has chosen — in the latest iteration of his career — to sell commodities of fluid and opaque value to anonymous benefactors.”

The letter continues:

Mr. Biden acknowledges it is “a hell of a lot easier to get noticed” as an artist due to his family name. Given Mr. Biden’s connection to the White House, his network of foreign associates, your efforts to become the “lead guy in China” for art, and history of foreign nations that have “used transactions involving high-value art to evade sanctions imposed on them by the United States,” the extent and nature of your dealings with Mr. Biden must be subject to the same scrutiny.

The prices your gallery has set for these pieces by a new, untrained, celebrity artist are unprecedented. One New York art adviser said such prices are “sort of insulting to the art ecosystem, as if anyone could do it.”

Sort of insulting? Comer notes that even the bargain-basement Bidens exceed the median annual income for the American household. Again, it’s great work if you can get it.

But never fear: Berges and the White House have reportedly come up with a system whereby Berges will check out potential buyers to ensure that their only motivation is the art itself, and not, say, to buy influence or help the Bidens launder money. What could go wrong?

Will anything come of Comer’s efforts to bring transparency to Hunter Biden’s latest hustle? We doubt it, and so does columnist Byron York. “Will Hunter Biden, and the White House, and the art gallery, suddenly become more transparent about the exhibit?” he asks. “Don’t count on it. At the moment, with the GOP in the minority in both houses of Congress, and a Democrat — the father of the artist — in the White House, there is simply no way there will be any official scrutiny of the exhibit. That leaves only the press to look into things.”

Ah, the press. The same folks who so doggedly held Hunter to account just prior to last year’s election? Nope, we’re not holding our breath.

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