Sources told CNN that the White House was involved in a settlement between Georges Burgess, the owner of the Soho New York gallery, and Hunter Biden in an effort to address any ethical concerns.
A spokesman for the Georges Burgess Gallery said Hunter Biden’s artwork is set to be displayed and sold at a private and confidential opening in Los Angeles in September, followed by an invitation-only event in New York. According to the spokesperson, the pieces cost between $75,000 and $500,000.
Two sources familiar with the sale arrangement told CNN that the buyer of the artwork would be kept anonymous and that neither Hunter Biden nor the public would know who bid or bought the work. If there is any unusual behavior – such as the offer price is too high or the collector is not interested in the work – the gallery is expected to turn down the offer, the sources said.
However, there is no clear enforcement mechanism for the standards agreed upon by the gallery and potential buyers of the Hunter Biden original.
Some ethics experts such as Walter Schaab – the former head of the Office of Government Ethics from 2013 to 2017 – have raised concerns about Biden’s new venture.
Schaub, now senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, said the sale “is a really terrible idea.”
“They’ve basically outsourced government ethics to a private art dealer and they rely on anonymous art buyers to help keep the secret,” he said, referring to the sales arrangement.
“You know, on one level I have some sympathy for the president because he can’t control his relatives,” Schaab said. “But on another level it is unlikely that this art from an unknown artist would be selling at this price if it did not have the Biden name attached to it. The cachet that comes with buying this art is saying that you are the President. Art made by the son. And so it really looks like the son of the president who is taking advantage of his father’s public service.”
Schaab also argued that they “created opportunities for people to try to receive preferential treatment without paying a price.”
Andrew Bates, a White House spokesman, said in a statement that “the president has set the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to such rigorous procedures is a prime example.”
CNN has reached out to Hunter Biden’s attorney for comment on the art sale.
The biography mentions his art style, briefly references his previous work as a lawyer and describes him as someone who “now devotes his life to the creative arts.”
Hunter Biden has been open about his battle with addiction, penning a book published earlier this year detailing his struggles, and crediting art as a coping mechanism.
“We’re going to run it like the Obama-Biden administration,” the president told People Magazine at the start of his term. “No one in our family and extended family is going to be involved in government undertaking or foreign policy.”
He continued, “And nobody has an office in this place. They always have access to Pop and Nana but nobody will have (an office).”
CNN’s Ben Krowlowitz contributed to this report.