Some ethical questions still loom over whether art or influence is being sold in Hunter Biden's art exhibition, reports The New York Times.
The Times points out that while the White House has provided guidelines for the gallery owner, George Bergès, "to keep the identity of art buyers from both the artist and the administration," at the end of the day, a decision to sell a piece of Hunter's work will ultimately be left up to Bergès.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki during a July briefing affirmed that procedures were in place that would prevent Hunter from knowing who had purchased his work.
"Well, again," Psaki said, answering a reporter, "I think it is certainly a commitment that has been made by all parties involved. [Hunter] is not involved in the sale or discussions about the sale of his art. And he will not be informed of the sale — of the sale of his art and who is purchasing that art. That is a commitment that's been made, and we expect that all parties would abide by it."
Bergès insists that he would adhere to such safeguards. However, neither the Times nor the White House has indicated what the safeguards are or how they will be enacted. For instance, it is not clear if a foreign national could purchase a piece or if a contract will be provided to minimize ethical concerns.
According to Walter Shaub, senior ethics fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, "it's a plan that is almost certain to fail. When you look at public perceptions of corruption, it has already failed."
But for Bergès, the focus is not who Hunter's father is, but the fact that Hunter is a great artist. As Bergès puts it, Hunter's work is a "totem of reflection."
The gallery owner adds that "Hunter will go down as a great artist for this century. If anything, his father will be known as the father of a great artist."
But for Jessica Tillipman, the assistant dean for government procurement law at George Washington University Law School, a better, more ethical policy rather than shrouding the buyers in secrecy would be opening up Hunter's exhibition to the public and letting everyone see.
Shrouding buyers in secrecy, Tillipman adds, "is not a true safeguard," and only adds to cynical speculation.
"They say it is, but saying it is doesn't mean it is."
"Open the door, let everyone see," she continued. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant, or you have just got to shut it down."
But Bergès disagrees, insisting the safeguards will work.
"What you get when you buy a Hunter Biden is an amazing piece of artwork," he states. "If you are looking for anything else, you have come to the wrong place."
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