President Barack Obama’s ethics chief on Monday slammed Hunter Biden’s ‘shameful and grifty’ sale of his art pieces for up to $500,000 to anonymous buyers as part of an upcoming exhibition that has already sparked bribery and potential money laundering fears.
Walter Shaub, the former Office of Government Ethics director, also warned that it could be a way for ‘influence seekers’ or foreign governments to funnel money to the Biden family.
Shaub, who last week called out Biden administration officials for hiring a slew of family members to a variety of positions, has urged Hunter and his art dealer Georges Berges to reveal the identity of the buyers so the public can see if the buyers are trying to get access to the White House.
He told Fox News: ‘The notion of a president’s son capitalizing on that relationship by selling art at obviously inflated prices and keeping the public in the dark about who’s funneling money to him has a shameful and grifty feel to it.’
‘Just as hotel charges and real estate purchases created a risk of unknown parties funneling money to the Trump family for potentially unsavory purposes, Hunter Biden’s grotesquely inflated art prices create a similar risk of influence-seekers funneling money to the Biden family,’ he added.
‘But I also think it’s ridiculous that Hunter Biden is even going forward with this sale as a first-time artist.
‘He can’t possibly think anyone is paying him based on the quality of the art. This smells like an attempt to cash in on a family connection to the White House.’
Shaub also tweeted on Monday: ‘Let’s let foreign govts or anyone else funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars anonymously to POTUS’s relatives through subjectively priced commodities like hotel charges, real estate purchases and art. Oh wait, no, art is COMPLETELY different.’
The scandal-plagued first son, who has no professional background as an artist, will be selling off his artwork at a solo exhibition in New York City this fall.
Berges, who was jailed in California in the 90s for assault, told Artnet that he has priced his latest client’s artworks between $75,000 and $500,000.
Art dealers have already noted that Biden is likely profiting off his father’s name given the staggering price of his artwork, with one saying his art would more likely sell for as much as $100,000 if he wasn’t a Biden.
All sales of Biden’s artwork will be kept confidential – despite his alleged corruption over prior business deals in Ukraine and China.
It has raised concerns that buyers with nefarious interests could potentially pay for the pieces to try to get access to President Biden through his son.
There are also fears from some that the sales of Biden’s artwork could result in people using laundered money to buy them and anonymous buyers in places like Russia might try purchasing Biden’s son’s work to try and get around sanctions currently imposed in their countries.
In October 2020, the US Treasury Department issued a warning that high-value art sales could be used by individuals and countries forbidden from doing business in the US as a way of circumventing that ban.
The Treasury Department advisory warned that the anonymity afforded to art buyers made it harder to track such illegal activity. It also warned the same buyers could then potentially re-sell the same works in the United States, enabling them to take money out of the US and potentially fund activities such as terrorism.