Hunter Biden art dealer hails first son after GOP record request: ‘His art gives us hope’
WASHINGTON — The art of the suck-up.
First son Hunter Biden’s art dealer Georges Berges lavished praise on the novice’s works one day after getting slapped with a sales-record demand from House Republicans alleging influence-peddling involving President Biden.
In an effusive Thursday statement to The Post, the SoHo gallery owner declined to say if he would hand over documents and sit for questions as requested by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), but made sure to celebrate Hunter’s work for reflecting the “unrelenting divinity within each of us.”
Berges described Hunter, a 52-year-old recovering crack addict who earned millions in overseas business ventures that often involved his father, as a genius destined to become “one of the most consequential artists in this century.”
“I represent Hunter Biden because I feel that not only his art merits my representation, but because his personal narrative, which gives birth to his art, is very much needed in the world,” Berges said.
“His is a story of perseverance; Hunter’s story reflects what I believe is the beauty of humanity, judged not by the fall, but by having the strength to rise up, by having the character required to change and the courage to do it.”
“Hunter Biden’s art reflects all of that and more. His art gives us hope; it reminds us that tomorrow brings a new day, a new beginning, a new possibility,” Berges added.
“Hunter Biden will become one of the most consequential artists in this century because the world needs his art now more than ever. In a world that beats us down, we need art in our lives that reminds of the unrelenting divinity within each of us.”
Berges told The Post that his legal representatives are the ones to contact about Comer’s requests because “my singular focus has always been, and will continue to be, the integrity of our artists and the privacy of our art collectors.”
The gallery owner didn’t immediately provide information on the lawyer representing him in the congressional investigation. An attorney who has represented Berges in the past didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
If Berges does not comply with the Oversight Committee request, the Republican majority on the panel can vote to compel his evidence and testimony with a subpoena. Continued stonewalling would open Berges to potential criminal charges.
“Almost 10 years ago I opened a gallery that has a global perspective on the human experience and that seeks to find artists who I feel will be consequential not just in the art world but in the broader culture,” Berges said Thursday. “Artists that are relevant to the times, not to esoteric circles where art and exhibitions come and go unnoticed by society, by the people, by culture, but relevant innovative artists and exhibitions that challenge us, and engage us.”
Berges’ statement mirrors an attempt by Democrats to deflect inquiries into Hunter Biden by describing him as someone who suffered from addiction and poor judgment following the 2015 death of his brother Beau — while Republicans counter that Hunter and his uncle James Biden spent much of Joe Biden’s vice presidency and the years that followed running a multimillion-dollar consulting enterprise in countries where their famous relative held sway.
Comer on Wednesday demanded that Berges provide documents describing art sales and communications with the White House by Feb. 8 and schedule “a transcribed interview with Committee staff” by Feb. 15.
“For over a decade, the Biden family has profited from Joe Biden’s positions as a public official,” Comer wrote. “Your arrangement with Hunter Biden raises serious ethics concerns and calls into question whether the Biden family is again selling access and influence.”
Berges told The Post in December that he had ignored three prior Comer demands for records because “[m]y goal has always been to discover and work with artists that I think are important culturally and historically [and] Hunter Biden is all of those things.”
Hunter has asked as much as $500,000 for his beginner works. He earned at least $375,000 in 2021 for five prints at a Hollywood art show attended by his father’s embattled nominee to be ambassador to India, then-Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. It’s unclear how many additional sales he may have made.
The first son refused to answer a question about whether his dad received income from his business dealings when Hunter made a Dec. 8 visit to Berges’ gallery ahead of an art show — telling a reporter for The Post, “Why don’t you come inside the gallery at 6 and take a look without your phone out?”
The White House said in 2021 that Hunter Biden’s art sales would be anonymous to prevent corruption, prompting strong pushback from ethics experts.
Richard Painter, who was President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer, said at the time that “buyers buy artwork to hang on the wall, not put in a closet,” making anonymity difficult to maintain.
Painter added that there should be “full transparency” about the buyers’ identities and Biden and his appointees should all sign pledges “to ensure these people can’t get access to the White House.”
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 gotta be kidding me.”
However, the White House itself issued a “US Strategy on Countering Corruption” report in December 2021 that noted broad concerns about art sales.
“The markets for art and antiquities — and the market participants who facilitate transactions — are especially vulnerable to a range of financial crimes,” the report said. “Built-in opacity, lack of stable and predictable pricing, and inherent cross-border transportability of goods sold, make the market optimal for illicit value transfer, sanctions evasion and corruption.”
The president has denied making any money from his son’s overseas business deals and the White House says he stands by his 2019 claim that he has never even discussed those enterprises with his son — despite evidence that he has interacted with Hunter and first brother James’ associates from China, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine.
Hunter Biden said in communications retrieved from his former laptop that he paid as much as “half” of his income to his father and a 2017 email described 10% of a financial windfall being held for the “big guy” as part of a business deal being negotiated in China. Two former Hunter Biden associates have identified Joe Biden as “the big guy.”
Hunter reportedly earned up to $1 million per year to serve on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma from 2014 to 2019, beginning when his father was put in charge of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. Hunter and James Biden earned $4.8 million from CEFC China Energy in 2017 and 2018, according to the Washington Post’s review of laptop documents. Former Hunter Biden business partner Tony Bobulinski alleges that he discussed the CEFC deal with Joe Biden in May 2017.
Online business records indicate the first son still owns a 10% stake in Chinese state-backed BHR Partners, which says it manages $2.1 billion in assets, despite his father’s insistence there would be no family-business-related conflicts of interest during his presidency.
Hunter co-founded BHR Partners in 2013 within weeks of joining then-Vice President Biden aboard Air Force Two on an official trip to Beijing, according to the Wall Street Journal. Hunter introduced his dad to BHR CEO Jonathan Li in a hotel lobby and Joe Biden later wrote college recommendation letters for Li’s children.
Hunter reportedly is under investigation by the US attorney’s office in Delaware for possible tax fraud, money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying and lying on a gun-purchase form. An associate, Hollywood lawyer Kevin Morris, last year paid off a roughly $2 million tax bill owed by Hunter in a bid to avoid criminal charges. The terms of that gift or loan remain unclear.
A special counsel, Robert Hur, is investigating Joe Biden’s handling of classified records dating to before his presidency. The probe could expand to investigate Hunter Biden’s role in the saga. Files from the first son’s former laptop show he frequently was at his dad’s Wilmington home, where documents were found, and he listed the house as his address on a 2018 background check form.
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