Hunter Biden’s New York City art dealer testified Tuesday that the president’s son knew his “sugar brother” lawyer was the top buyer of his paintings, contradicting the White House’s previously cited ethics plan to conceal his patrons’ identities.
According to the readout of a closed-door deposition with the House Oversight Committee, Georges Bergès, who owns the Georges Bergès Art Gallery in Manhattan, revealed he never worked with the White House on such an ethics pact, and that Hunter knew who bought about 70% of his art work.
According to a July 2021 report by The Washington Post, Biden administration officials “helped craft an agreement under which purchases of Hunter Biden’s artwork — which could be listed at prices as high as $500,000 — will be kept confidential from even the artist himself, in an attempt to avoid ethical issues that could arise as a presidential family member tries to sell a product with a highly subjective value.”
The agreement was frequently cited by then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who now hosts an opinion show on liberal network MSNBC.
Of those purchases Bergès said Hunter was aware of, the most lucrative was from Kevin Morris, the Hollywood lawyer dubbed Hunter’s “sugar brother” due to his financial support, help writing a book and lending a private jet to the president’s son. He purchased $875,000 worth of artwork in a January 2023 deal.
Bergès testified that Morris only paid 40% commission on the $875,000 purchase, and that the lawyer worked with Hunter to figure out the financial implications. He admitted to never having done an art deal like that before.
Another individual he testified Hunter knew of was Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, who spent $42,000 on his art work in February 2021, prior to being appointed by President Biden to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad that July. She bought another $52,000 worth in December 2022.
According to The New York Post, Naftali has denied that she purchased the art to gain the president’s favor, and that “any insinuation that her purchase of art was unusual or somehow improper” was false.
Bergès spoke to the committee as part of House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Biden. GOP lawmakers have accused Biden of using his status and name to enrich himself and his family.
Republican investigators have suggested they are suspicious over whether Hunter’s art career, which began in recent years, has led to any conflicts of interest between wealthy buyers and the White House.
“The Biden White House appears to have deceived the American people about facilitating an ethics agreement governing the sale of Hunter Biden’s art,” Oversight Committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said in a statement calling the agreement a “sham.”
“The vast majority of Hunter Biden’s art has been purchased by Democrat donors, one of whom was appointed by President Biden to a prestigious commission after she purchased Hunter Biden’s art for tens of thousands of dollars shortly after Joe Biden’s inauguration. The White House has a lot of explaining to do about misleading the American people,” he added.
The White House’s arrangement also previously took heat from a former Obama administration ethics chief, who called it a “perfect mechanism for funneling bribes.”
“So instead of disclosing who is paying outrageous sums for Hunter Biden’s artwork so that we could monitor whether the purchasers are gaining access to government, the WH tried to make sure we will never know who they are,” Walter Shaub wrote in a 2021 thread on X, following the Washington Post’s report. “That’s very disappointing.”