In 2021, Hunter Biden’s paintings were displayed at a New York art gallery, with asking prices reaching $500,000. The White House stated that there was a meticulous process for vetting buyers, and only the gallery knew the identities of the art patrons. Per the official statement, Hunter Biden was unaware of his buyers’ names. They belonged to an exclusive collectors’ world separate from politics.
It was later revealed that contrary to White House claims, the younger Biden not only knew the identity of one of the buyers but also that the buyer enjoyed an appointment to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali holds influence within California Democratic circles and is recognized as a significant Democratic donor. Her contributions include $13,414 to the Biden campaign and $29,700 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the reported year. In 2022, Naftali hosted a fundraiser featuring Vice President Kamala Harris as the headline guest.
While the appointment is unpaid, it is frequently filled with individuals who have contributed to political campaigns, are family members of influential figures, or are political allies. In the past, Hunter indicated privately that he could use his influence to have friends appointed to the commission. Eric Schwerin, a long-time business associate of Hunter Biden, was appointed to the same position by President Barack Obama in 2015. A 2008 email from Hunter’s laptop, dated in 2008, suggests that he played a role in Schwerin’s appointment, as Eric had reportedly requested a position shortly after the 2008 election.
Testimony from Biden’s art gallerist told a different story than that of the White House. Georges Bergès revealed to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee that, contrary to the Biden administration’s official position on the matter, Hunter knew who purchased about 70% of his art buyers.
George Washington University law professor and Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley observed that Bergès never interacted with the White House regarding Hunter’s art sales. He and Hunter continued their venture, even though both knew the public was misled. Before the White House released its official statement in July 2021, Bergès had an agreement with Bunter, established in 2020, giving Hunter full access to buyers.
In September 2021, following the White House’s statement, Bergès and Hunter reached a new agreement that was more in keeping with the administration’s official position—the new agreement called for the gallery to keep Hunter’s buyers’ names concealed.
According to Bergès, there was never a “White House-involved agreement,” and Hunter was aware of approximately 70% of the buyers of his art. Despite confirming that he had spoken with President Biden over the phone and in person, Bergès maintained that he never violated the agreement with Hunter. Bergès stated that if Hunter knew the identities of some buyers, it was either because they were friends or by chance. He emphasized his commitment not to disclose the buyers, per his obligation to Hunter.
In July 2021, then-White House press secretary Circle Back Jen Psaki weighed in. She told reporters that Hunter had established a system for working in his profession with safeguards. Professional galleries would oversee all interactions related to selling Hunter’s art “while adhering to industry standards,” and any offers outside the standard procedure would be rejected.
Psaki stated, “The galleries will not share information about buyers or prospective buyers, including their identities, with Hunter Biden or the administration, which provides quite a level of protection.”
Former Bush administration ethics chief Richard Painter noted the White House’s approach of keeping the buyers’ identities secret was entirely inappropriate and that the administration should have had no contact with Bergès. Per Painter, Hunter’s best course of action should have been to “not sell the art at all during his father’s presidency and certainly not sell it at those prices.”
Former deputy independent counsel Sol Weisenberg described the circumstances as another instance of the Biden family’s casual approach to influence peddling. “As a citizen, I would rather know who is buying the paintings and how much they are paying than operating under the false illusion that Hunter and the family are being kept in the dark about the source of this latest largesse.”
Wealthy Los Angeles attorney and Biden confidant Kevin Morris is another known buyer of Hunter’s art. While it was initially suggested that the art might have been a gift, a person close to Morris revealed that he purchased it through the gallery. Morris has also lent Hunter over $2 million to settle back taxes and avoid felony penalties in his IRS legal battles.
Bergès’ testimony further revealed that influence peddling isn’t just a hobby…it’s an art form for the Biden family.