The White House is defending the handling of controversial first son Hunter Biden’s debut art show, touting an anonymous sales system being run by a private New York gallery as transparent.
The SoHo gallery’s efforts to conceal records from President Joe Biden’s amateur artist son’s exhibit, including the names of bidders and final buyers, as well as the amounts paid, will make it “challenging” for someone or an organization to exert influence on the younger Biden, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“After careful consideration, a system has been established that allows for Hunter Biden to work in his profession within reasonable safeguards,” Psaki told reporters Friday. “Of course, he has the right to pursue an artistic career just like any child of a president.”
Psaki skirted questions about the White House’s involvement in drafting Biden’s sale agreements with gallery owner Georges Berges. Instead, she insisted the gallery will adhere to the highest industry standards.
“Any offer out of the normal course will be rejected out of hand,” she said.
Biden’s art will be displayed first in Los Angeles during a private and confidential opening in September before another event in New York. The pieces have been priced between $75,000 and $500,000.
The lobbyist-investor, who is better known for his $50,000-a-month role on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings and his struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, told the New York Times last year painting was “literally” keeping him sober and sane.
Federal employees are bound by strict laws that prevent them from profiting from their positions, but the same rules do not apply to the president’s family. Biden aides said during the transition that his family would sign a code of conduct to avoid any conflicts of interest. Yet, the president and first lady Jill Biden have been criticized for blurring the lines, such as when they commented on Hunter’s memoir, helping to promote its release.
Former President Donald Trump targeted Hunter Biden for his business dealings and tabloid personal life during the 2020 campaign against his father. Trump’s interest in Biden’s work with Burisma, given his lack of energy sector experience and the fact he was offered it when his former vice president father was responsible for foreign policy in the region, was central to his first impeachment by House Democrats in 2019.
Biden’s financial transactions in China are now suspected to be the basis of a federal investigation by the FBI and IRS into his taxes. That investigation dates back to 2018 and involves allegations of money laundering, including a 2.8-carat diamond he was gifted by a Chinese tycoon.