WASHINGTON — The House Oversight Committee is demanding first son Hunter Biden’s art dealer turn over sales information and book an interview with congressional investigators on possible influence peddling.
Panel chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter Wednesday to SoHo gallerist Georges Berges after he brazenly brushed off an initial request last month.
“For more than a decade, the Biden family has profited from Joe Biden’s positions as a public servant,” Comer wrote. “Your arrangement with Hunter Biden raises serious ethical issues and calls into question whether the Biden family is selling access and influence again.”
Hunter Biden launched his artistic career after his father took over as president in 2021 – having previously sought business, alongside his uncle James Biden, in countries where his father dominated as vice president, including China and Ukraine.
“Although he is a novice artist, Hunter Biden has received exorbitant sums selling his works, the identity of the buyers remains unknown and you appear to be the sole holder of the records of these lucrative transactions,” Comer wrote to Berges.
“For example, you announced that the price of Hunter Biden’s latest artwork ranged from $55,000 to $225,000. It is concerning that President Biden’s son is the recipient of anonymous high-dollar transactions – potentially from foreign buyers – without any accountability or oversight (other than you).
The letter asks Berges to provide documents by February 8 and to schedule “a transcribed interview with Committee staff” by February 15.
If Berges refuses to comply with the request, the committee’s Republican majority can vote to compel evidence and testimony with a subpoena, and further obstruction would open Berges to possible criminal charges.
Comer requests “all documents and communications between you, the Georges Bergès Gallery (or its agents) and the White House” and “[a]all documents and communications between you, Galerie Georges Bergès (or its agents) and Hunter Biden.
Comer also demands “[d]documents sufficient to show who purchased Hunter Biden’s artwork” and “[a]All documents and communications relating to Hunter Biden’s art pricing.
Hunter, 52, has asked for up to $500,000 for his debut works. He won at least $375,000 last year for five draws at a Hollywood art show attended by his father’s beleaguered candidate to be ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, then mayor of Los Angeles, and on does not know how many additional sales he was able to achieve.
Berges told the Post in December that he ignored three previous requests from Comer for recordings because “[m]my goal has always been to discover and work with artists that I consider culturally and historically important [and] Hunter Biden is all of those things.
“Its future is art and we are all richer because of it,” added Berges. “I just hope we’re not politicizing something positive and good.”
The Post could not immediately reach Berges for comment on the new record request.
The first son refused to answer a question asking if his father had received any income from his various business dealings when Hunter paid a December 8 visit to the Berges gallery ahead of an art exhibition – instead putting his arm around him. a reporter for The Post and saying, ‘Why don’t you come into the gallery at 6 a.m. and take a look around without your phone?’
The White House said in 2021 Hunter Biden’s art sales would be “anonymous” to prevent corruption, prompting a strong backlash from ethics experts.
“We still don’t and still won’t know who is buying paintings,” Jen Psaki, then White House press secretary, said last year.
Richard Painter, who was President George W. Bush’s chief ethics counsel, said at the time that “buyers are buying art to hang on the wall, not put in a closet,” which makes anonymity difficult to maintain.
Painter said there should be “full transparency” about who the buyers are and that Biden and his appointees should all sign pledges “to ensure these people can’t get into the White House.”
Walter Shaub, director of the US Office of Government Ethics under President Barack Obama, called for sales to be canceled or the names of buyers to be released, saying, “Hunter Biden should cancel this art sale because he knows that the prices are based on his father’s work. Shame on POTUS if he doesn’t tell Hunter to stop.
The Post asked the president in November 2021 if he was concerned about potential corruption with his son’s art sales, to which Joe Biden replied, “You must be kidding me.”
The president has denied making money from his son’s overseas business deals and the White House says he stands by his 2019 claim that he never even discussed those ventures with his son – despite evidence that he interacted with Hunter and associates of the first brother James. from China, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.
Hunter Biden said in communications recovered from an old laptop that he paid up to “half” of his income to his father and a 2017 email described 10% of a financial windfall held for the “ big guy” as part of a trade deal being negotiated in China. Two former associates of Hunter Biden identified Joe Biden as the big guy.
Hunter Biden is reportedly facing a federal criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware for possible tax evasion, money laundering, lying on a gun purchase form and unregistered foreign lobbying.
A special advocate, Robert Hur, is investigating Joe Biden’s handling of classified records from before his presidency. The probe could expand to investigate Hunter Biden’s role in the saga. Files from the first son’s old laptop show he was frequently at his father’s home in Wilmington, where sensitive papers were found, and he listed the house as his address on a background check form of 2018.
A report last year on Biden’s laptop by the conservative Marco Polo research group, founded by former Trump White House official Garrett Ziegler, called Hunter Biden’s art dealings “richly ironic” after his father’s administration in December 2021 produced an anti-corruption strategy that said the art industry was at the forefront of abuse given its “intrinsic opacity, lack of stable and predictable prices and the inherent cross-border transportability of the goods sold, making the market optimal for illicit value transfer, sanctions evasion and corruption”.