That’s considerably more than a typical up-and-coming artist without much experience or many sales under his belt, and it’s one of the reasons Richard Painter, a White House ethics lawyer during the George W. Bush administration, says he’s uneasy about the arrangement.
“I’m baldly surprised at the pricing,” he said. “That’s part of the appearance problem.”
The concern, he said, is that regardless of who purchases the paintings, such high prices suggest Hunter Biden is profiting off his father’s name. Painter worried that foreign governments could fund the purchase through a buyer, or lobbyists could purchase the painting to win favor with those in Biden’s orbit, even if Hunter and his father don’t know the buyer’s identity.
Painter said ideally, Hunter would have waited to sell his paintings until his father left office, to avoid any appearance of impropriety — but since he’s turning to this avenue to make a living, the buyers and prices for each painting should be disclosed and recused from any work with the administration.
“I would not have chosen the secrecy route. I would have gone with the transparency route,” he said.
The executive order Biden signed reestablished and expanded on many Obama-era ethics rules. It restored a two-year ban on departing senior appointees communicating with their former agency and expanded that ban to include communications with senior White House staff. It also reestablished the Obama-era two-year ban on lobbyists working on the issue they lobbied on within the administration, among other things. He also committed before taking office that none of his family members will work in his administration.