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Baltimore Museum of Art acquires its first piece of performance art
January 11, 2024

Manhattan gallerist Georges Bergès, who represents US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in his fledgling art career, spoke to the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday (9 January) as part of a larger impeaching inquiry against the president, Oversight Chair James Comer (R-Kentucky) said in a statement this week.

Hunter Biden’s art career and other business dealings have come under scrutiny by Republicans, who have accused him of profiting off of his father’s political career. His paintings in particular have caused concern that a buyer in theory could purchase Hunter’s work in order to gain access to his father, the president. Republicans say Bergès has advertised prices for Hunter’s work ranging from $55,000 to $225,000, high for an emerging artist.

This week, Bergès told the committee that Hunter knows the identities of the customers who purchased roughly 70% of the value of his art, Comer said. But that figure represents only about three of the ten buyers who have acquired work by Hunter, a source familiar with the meeting told Politico, noting that Bergès told the committee he did not tell Hunter who the buyers were. That sources said Bergès indicated that Hunter only knew the identity of one of the buyers through media reports and another because he saw artwork hanging in an individual’s home, according to Politico.

Bergès told the committee he did not have any communication with the White House about an agreement over how to handle Hunter’s art and the identities of the buyers, according to Comer’s statement and Politico.

Bergès’s claims appear to contradict earlier reports that the gallery and the White House worked out an ethics agreement that stipulated any buyers of Hunter’s work would be kept confidential even from the artist himself, to avoid the appearance of possible conflicts of interest. Months later, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House did not set up the deal, but added they “have spoken extensively to the arrangements”.

Hunter Biden

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According to Comer, Bergès confirmed buyers include donors to the Democratic party, like Hollywood attorney Kevin Morris and Los Angeles real estate investor Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali. Bergès said Morris bought most of Biden’s art in January 2023 for $875,000, thought he noted Morris only paid Bergès’ his 40% commission and Hunter and Morris figured out the rest between the two of them, according to Comer. Morris, whom Hunter said has “been a brother to me”, has reportedly spent millions financially supporting the younger Biden. Naftali purchased Hunter’s work in February 2021 for $42,000, then again in December 2022 for $52,000. In July 2022, Naftali was named to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

Bergès did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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