Hunter Biden’s works are being offered for as much as $500,000 apiece; his art dealer said he would follow ethics guidelines developed by the Biden administration.
By Graham Bowley and Robin Pogrebin
The Georges Bergès Gallery has sat on a chic stretch of SoHo for six years now, a relatively little-known newcomer in a New York art world that has long been dominated by name-brand power brokers like Pace Gallery and Gagosian.
This summer, however, it has unexpectedly become one of the most talked about galleries in the nation, thanks to its plans to sell works by another relative newcomer to the art world: a fledgling artist who happens to be the son of the president of the United States.
The gallery is planning to sell 15 works by Hunter Biden, and is asking as much as $500,000 apiece. The prices — which are high for a novice artist — have raised questions in Washington about whether the works might attract buyers seeking to curry favor with the Biden White House.
In response, the administration has developed a set of ethics guidelines that call on the gallery to keep the identity of buyers and other details of the sales from both the artist and the administration.
Even though the art world is widely known for its secrecy and a lack of transparency, questions remain about how the arrangement will play out in practice.
Mr. Bergès said that he believed the guidelines would work “just fine,” and that the anonymity of buyers could be preserved even though Hunter Biden plans to attend the openings of his shows, which are set to take place in a private studio in Los Angeles next month and then at the Bergès Gallery in New York in October.
“Obviously, artists have to attend their own opening — both openings will be ‘by invitation only’ and limited to friends and family,” Mr. Bergès said in response to written questions. “There will be no discussion of pricing and sales — that will be handled by the gallery at other times.” (Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said that neither the president nor first lady would attend the openings. The first lady, Jill Biden, has one of Hunter Biden’s pieces in her office.)
Mr. Bergès said that he had been attracted to Mr. Biden’s work for “its mastery of color and form, and most importantly, its authenticity.” He said that the struggles of Mr. Biden — who has spoken of grappling with drug addiction — come through in the work, and that “I saw a lot of the positive qualities that have defined his life in his art — the heroic journey that comes from stumbling and falling and then rising up; his art is full of hope.”
The prices Mr. Bergès has said he is seeking for Mr. Biden’s works — between $75,000 for works on paper and up to $500,000 for large-scale works — are high for a new artist, even one with a well-known name, several art experts said.
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