Republicans press Hunter Biden’s dealer for information on his art sales

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The United States House Oversight and Accountability Committee sent a letter to Hunter Biden’s art dealer on Wednesday (26 January) demanding that he disclose information related to the sales of Biden’s paintings. The letter, written by committee chairman James Comer (a Republican representative from Kentucky), also demands that the dealer, Georges Bergès, hand over all communications detailing an agreement between his Manhattan gallery and the White House to keep the identities of buyers confidential.

“Your arrangement with Hunter Biden raises serious ethics concerns and calls into question whether the Biden family is again selling access and influence,” Comer wrote to Bergès. “Despite being a novice artist, Hunter Biden received exorbitant amounts of money selling his artwork, the buyers’ identities remain unknown and you appear to be the sole record keeper of these lucrative transactions.”

The letter is part of Republicans’ ongoing investigations into the business dealings of President Joe Biden and members of his family, alleging that they used their influence to profit from “questionable” foreign and domestic dealings. House Republicans earlier this month demanded information from the US Department of the Treasury about the Bidens’ banking transactions. The committee previously wrote to Bergès seeking sales information related to Hunter Biden’s art during the 117th US Congress on 3 January 2021, but the dealer did not respond.

Georges Bergès Gallery, which opened in 2015, has twice exhibited Hunter Biden’s work—large-scale paintings that veer from splotchy and geometric abstractions to highly embellished, nature-inspired scenes—in November 2021 and December 2022. According to Comer, the dealer has advertised prices ranging from $55,000 to $225,000.

Ethics experts have previously raised concerns over the prices, considered high given Biden’s nascent art career, and the possibility that buyers could seek preferential treatment from the White House. Prior to Biden’s debut show, White House lawyers worked with the gallery to establish guidelines to keep the identity of purchasers secret from both the artist and the administration. “Of course, [Hunter Biden] has the right to pursue an artistic career, just like any child of a President has the right to pursue a career,” former White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at the time. “But all interactions regarding the selling of art and the setting of prices will be handled by a professional gallerist, adhering to the highest industry standards. And any offer out of the normal course would be rejected out of hand.”

Bergès, who alone vets the buyers, has remained tight-lipped about the criteria he sets. The Oversight Committee is requesting that he appear for a transcribed interview regarding his gallery’s transactions prior to 15 February 2023.

“It is concerning that President Biden’s son is the recipient of anonymous, high-dollar transactions—potentially from foreign buyers—with no accountability or oversight (other than you),” Comer wrote to Bergès. “The American people deserve transparency regarding certain details about Hunter Biden’s expensive art transactions.”

Contacted by email, Bergès referred all questions related to the Oversight Committee’s inquiry to his attorney. He added, “I represent Hunter Biden because I feel that not only his art merits my representation, but because his personal narrative, which gives birth to his art, is very much needed in the world. His is a story of perseverance.”

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