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White House accused of misleading public on Biden art sales

By Jake Beardslee · January 17, 2024

In brief…

  • Hunter Biden's art dealer contract gave him buyers' names, despite White House anonymity claims
  • Dealers said it's unusual for new artists like Biden to demand buyers' identities
  • Biden knew buyers included Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali and "sugar brother" Kevin Morris
  • Biden had dealer remove name clause after July 2021 White House statements
Testimony to Congress indicated that an arrangement between Hunter Biden and his art dealer giving Biden information on buyers was inconsistent with the White House's previous statements about confidentiality of sales.  Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Wikimedia

Hunter Biden’s arrangement with his art dealer to disclose the identities of buyers raises ethics concerns, according to testimony to Congress. Biden’s October 2020 contract with Georges Berges stipulated that the gallery would provide a “list of names of purchasers of work with prices… on a quarterly basis,” Republican lawmakers said Berges told them, according to The New York Post. This contradicts White House claims in 2021 that buyers would remain anonymous to Biden to avoid influence peddling.

Art dealers said it’s unusual for emerging artists like Biden to demand buyers’ names. “It’s a really arrogant thing to do,” said Stefan Simchowitz, a Los Angeles gallerist. Biden also knew buyers included Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, who got art before and after a presidential appointment, and Kevin Morris, Biden’s “sugar brother,” The Post reported.

After the White House said in July 2021 Biden wouldn’t know buyers’ identities, he asked Berges to remove the clause in September 2021. Former press secretary Jen Psaki reaffirmed anonymity claims in October 2021.