Hunter sold art to Biden donor who was given an impressive commission appointment

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File

Is it a coincidence that an influential California Democrat donor purchased Hunter Biden’s artwork and also received a big favor from the Biden White House? I don’t believe in coincidences but your mileage may vary.


Hunter Biden is an artist who sells his artwork in art galleries in Manhattan and Los Angeles for a pretty penny. Creating the artwork is allegedly good therapy for his drug addiction recovery. The sales of his artwork were supposed to be anonymous to Hunter and his father, the president. That seemed like an impossible promise when the White House was questioned about the intersection between Hunter’s latest financial venture and his father’s political career. As it turns out, it was impossible.

Business Insider has an exclusive story that Hunter did learn the identity of two buyers and one of those buyers is someone who received a favor from the Biden White House. The timing of the art purchase and the special favor are not known.

At the time the public learned about Hunter’s gallery showings and his artwork being for sale, questions about the ethics of the situation arose. Obama’s former ethics chief called the arrangement “shameful and grifty.’ It was pretty obvious that an amateur painter selling his artwork for prices up to $500,000 a piece was questionable, especially when the buyers might be purchasing the art to gain favor with Joe Biden, the president. It is not normal for the president’s son to make a fortune by selling artwork, only to turn around and insist that the purchases are anonymous and in no way intended to influence The Big Guy. Given the Biden family’s tendency to questionable dealings with foreign companies, thanks to the family name and Joe’s political career, Hunter’s artwork sales never passed the smell test.


That buyer, Insider can reveal, is Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, a Los Angeles real estate investor and philanthropist. Hirsh Naftali is influential in California Democratic circles and is a significant Democratic donor who has given $13,414 to the Biden campaign and $29,700 to the Democratic National Campaign Committee this year. In 2022, she hosted a fundraiser headlined by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Insider also obtained internal documents from Hunter Biden’s gallery showing that a single buyer purchased $875,000 of his art. The documents do not indicate the buyer’s identity, which is also unknown to Insider at this time.

In July 2022, eight months after Hunter Biden’s first art opening, Joe Biden announced Hirsh Naftali’s appointment to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. It is unclear whether Hirsh’s purchase of Hunter Biden’s artwork occurred before or after that appointment. Membership on the commission is an unpaid position that is often filled by campaign donors, family members, and political allies — the same crowd that often winds up with US ambassadorial appointments. Hirsh Naftali’s fundraising activities mark her as the kind of well-connected donor who often wins such appointments, regardless of any relationship they might have with the president’s family. But they do not address the possibility that Hunter Biden might have voiced his support for her appointment.


Did Hunter learn that she was someone who purchased his artwork and recommend that she be appointed to the prestigious commission? We don’t know the sequence of events – was the artwork purchased first or did her appointment come first? This kind of question is what ethics professionals were warning about. It looks like a quid pro quo either way.

If Hunter Biden was a talented artist, some of the questions may not arise but he’s an amateur and a known grifter. If he was not the president’s son, no one would know his name in the world of art.

No one responded to Business Insider’s questions. The White House and Hunter’s counsel had no comment. Ms. Hirsh Naftali had no comment. One White House spokesman did offer a brief statement denying any involvement between the White House and the art sales.

An administration official told Insider that her appointment had been recommended to Biden by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They said there was no connection between her art purchases and her appointment. They said that Hirsh Naftali was deeply involved with Jewish causes in Los Angeles and Israel — valuable background for a commission that works to preserve many historic Jewish sites across Europe. They noted her service on a policy board at the RAND Corporation, a prominent think tank.

They did not offer a timeline.

“Hunter Biden is a private citizen who is entitled to have his career as an artist,” said Ian Sams, a White House spokesperson. “We are not involved in his art sales, and any buyers of his art are not disclosed to the White House.”


Ok. I’m sure everything is fine.

One professional ethicist offered an opinion.

Bruce Weinstein, a professional ethicist and ethics trainer, told Insider that the timing of Hirsh Naftali’s purchase was significant. “If it was done after her appointment, and she likes the painting, it’s less of an issue,” he said. “It’s more of an issue if she’s deciding to buy it beforehand. Then it might be perceived as a quid pro quo.”

But regardless of the timing, Weinstein said, “if you really wanted to choose the most ethically appropriate course of action, that would not involve any conflict of interest, real or perceived, then you don’t buy the painting.”

Seems reasonable, right? If you don’t want to be perceived as part of a high-level grift, don’t participate, don’t buy the artwork.

The Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad has popped up in Hunter’s conversations in the past. He has allegedly suggested that he could get his friends appointed to the commission. A longtime Hunter Biden business associate, Eric Schwerin, received an appointment by Obama in 2015. An email found on Hunter’s now-famous abandoned laptop suggests he had a say in his friend’s appointment.

Georges Bergès Gallery owner Georges Berges responded in an email that attempts to get the names of those who purchase Hunter’s artwork are illegal and “will be reported to the proper authorities.” Nonetheless, Business Insider obtained Georges Berges Gallery documents that show one buyer purchased 11 pieces for a total of $875,000. The identity of that buyer is not known.


Another known buyer is Hunter’s attorney, Kevin Morris. He is the person that loaned Hunter the money to pay his IRS debts. Hunter refers to him as his “sugar brother”. Most recently, Morris was seen using a bong at his home while Hunter was visiting.

I’m sure everything is fine.

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