Biden administration officials and the gallery helping sell the younger Biden’s art previously said Hunter Biden would attend gallery events in New York City and Los Angeles later this year.
But Hunter Biden will not have discussions about art sales at those events, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed.
“He’s not—those discussions will be happening with the gallerist,” Psaki told reporters in Washington.
Asked how the administration could guarantee that, Psaki could not provide an answer. Will there be anything stopping a prospective buyer from telling Hunter Biden that they plan to buy a piece? “He will not know, we will not know who purchases his art,” Psaki said.
The latest claim on the unusual arrangement, which the White House helped craft, drew criticism from Walter Shaub, who directed the Office of Government Ethics during the Obama administration.
He accused Psaki of deflecting when asked about possible buyers telling Hunter Biden they’d buy his art.
“The response? She deflects, saying Hunter won’t know who the buyers are, then jumps to another reporter. They have no answer,” Shaub wrote on Twitter.
“The secrecy agreement was designed to keep one group of people from knowing who buys Hunter Biden’s art: The public. There’s no mechanism for monitoring, no mechanism for notifying the public if confidentiality is broken, no mechanism for tracking if buyers get access to [government],” he added.
The arrangement, according to the White House and the Georges Berges Gallery, will see the gallery handle the sales while shielding the identities of the buyers from both Biden administration officials and Hunter Biden.
Experts have expressed concern about buyers trying to curry favor with the Biden administration and have said the identities should be made public.
Jerry Saltz, an art critic at New York Magazine also weighed in, envisioning a scenario former President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. was selling pieces of art while his father was president.
“Imagine all the foreign agents, fishy businessmen, lobbyists, politicos buying the work & back room deals. The potential for conflict of interest is enormous & dangerous,” Saltz wrote on social media.
The specific mechanisms of the arrangement have not been made public and the gallery has not responded to emailed questions. Persons who have answered the phone there have declined to comment.
During the briefing Friday, a reporter later wondered about specific procedures that are in place to make sure conversations at the gallery events don’t touch on sales.
“I think it is certainly a commitment that has been made by all parties involved. He is not involved in the sale or discussions about the sale of his art. And he will not be informed of the sale and who is purchasing that art,” Psaki answered. “That is a commitment that’s been made, and we expect that all parties would abide by it.”