Hunter Biden brought in $1.3 million selling his paintings at his September 2021 New York art gallery debut, and one buyer later won a prestigious appointment from President Joe Biden, according to internal documents obtained by Business Insider.
The prices of Hunter Biden’s pieces were priced between $75,000 and $500,000 — the price point sparked ethics concerns which the White House addressed in July of 2021.
Sources familiar with the sales arrangement reached between the White House and SoHo New York Gallery owner Georges Bergès told CNN that the purchasers of the artwork will be kept anonymous and neither Hunter Biden nor the public would know who bid on or bought the work.
The sources also said that any unusual behavior –such as offer prices being too high or the collector not appearing interested in the work — would be met with the gallery turning down the offer.
On the campaign trail in 2019, Joe Biden pledged that there would be an “absolute wall” between his presidency and his family’s business dealings, and claimed that he had never discussed business with his relatives.
Despite the sales agreement, Business Insider revealed Monday that Hunter Biden did in fact learn the identity of two buyers, according to three sources familiar with Hunter Biden’s account.
One buyer is Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, the owner of a Los Angeles real estate company and a Democratic donor who gave $13,414 to the Biden campaign and $29,700 to the Democratic National Campaign Committee in 2023.
In 2022, Hirsh Naftali hosted a fundraiser headlined by Vice President Kamala Harris, per Business Insider.
In July 2022, eight months after Hunter Biden’s New York art gallery debut, President Biden appointed Hirsch Naftali to the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.
President Barack Obama appointed Hunter Biden’s longtime friend and business partner Eric D. Schwerin to the same commission in 2015 — an email found on Hunter Biden’s laptop apparently suggests that he influenced Schwerin’s appointment.
“Eric asked me for one of these the day after the election in 2008,” Biden wrote to a cousin who had been asking for a similar appointment for her mother.
A Biden administration official told Business insider that Hirsch Naftali’s appointment had been recommended to the president by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and that there was no connection between her art purchases and her appointment.
“Hunter Biden is a private citizen who is entitled to have his own career as an artist,” White House spokesperson Iam Sams told Insider. “We are not involved in his art sales, and any buyers of his art are not disclosed to the White House.”
Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden’s counsel, said in an emailed statement to Business Insider that Hunter Biden had learned of the identities of the two buyers because they were friends.
“The gallery sets the pricing and handles all sales based on the highest ethical standards of the industry, and does not disclose the names of any purchasers to Mr. Biden,” Lowell wrote.
“Names of buyers are strictly confidential,” wrote gallery owner Georges Bergès in an email to Insider. “Any attempt to get them is illegal and will be reported to the proper authorities.”
The second buyer was revealed by Insider to be Kevin Morris, a Los Angeles-based attorney who has since become Biden’s financial backer — sources told Insider that Morris allegedly lent Hunter Biden upwards of $2 million to help him pay off back taxes to avoid felony penalties under his June settlement with the Department of Justice.
Internal gallery documents obtained by Insider show that a single buyer purchased 11 of Hunter Biden’s artworks for a total of $875,000, representing a majority of the $1,379,000 total that Hunter Biden’s gallery received for his work.