'Artist' Hunter Biden has the perfect potential scam
Despite claiming that his son Hunter "did nothing wrong" as he raked in buku bucks as a manager of "private equity" from places like China after he followed his father around on his trips as vice president, Joe Biden says things will be different now that he's going to be president.
"My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise, that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict, with the appropriate distance from, the presidency and government," Biden told CNN host Jake Tapper in an interview Thursday."
Yeah, sure. Actually, it looks like business as usual for House Biden, with Hunter now claiming to be an "artist."
Hunter, who has no experience in finance or energy yet has drawn fantastical sums for himself for it in places like Ukraine and China based on his access to his vice presidential father, has already got lawmen looking for him, on tax evasion charges; bribery; money-laundering; and, based on what was found on his abandoned laptop, maybe child porn.
So pulling any of the same scams he's always done to get himself rich off his dad's public office, while not impossible, probably will have to stop. Too many people know about it; too many people are looking.
So like a con man who changes his name as moves on to the next town, Hunter Biden abandoned private equity and turned up as an "artist."
He's living in a $12,000 rented unit in the Hollywood Hills, across the canyon from real artist David Hockney, blowing ink from a pipe, and, now that Dad has cheated his way into the presidency, suddenly landed his own Manhattan gallery show. He couldn't do that earlier, but now that Joe's going to be president, he sure as heck can.
Hunter's no artist.
The New York Times did a puff piece on his art career back in February, claiming that his new art career was some kind of art therapy, given his past addiction to crack and strippers and eight trips to rehab. I wrote about that here.
But with zero art training, and claimed expertise under the header that he's just always liked to draw, it all looks pretty suspicious as a new disguised means of obtaining payoffs.
First, take the reviews of the art critics, some prominent ones of impeccable acumen such as Jerry Saltz of New York magazine, on Hunter Biden's purported "art."
According to Artnet News last February:
"Generic Post Zombie Formalism illustration" is how Jerry Saltz, New York magazine critic and author of the forthcoming book How to Be an Artist, characterized Biden's work in an email to Artnet News.
Saltz also offered a few words of advice: "Lose the big signature at once; forget the Kusama dots altogether; experiment with the surface and color and tools. Really consider the whole-page as a space and not make everything derivative all-over composition. The background doesn't always have to be white, you big baby."
Meanwhile, art critic Scott Indrisek, former deputy editor of Artsy, had this to say: "Hunter's paintings have a kind of vaguely scientific, vaguely psychedelic vibe that reminds me of Fred Tomaselli — if Fred Tomaselli started making art for dermatologists' waiting rooms. But then again, the process here seems more important than the finished product. I guess it's important that wounded men of a certain age and privileged background have the opportunity to find themselves creatively[.] ... [I]t's just too bad that everyone else is expected to pay attention."
Hunter has about as much talent at art as he has knowledge of Ukraine's natural gas industry.
And his prospects with no talent — well, take a look at the puff piece in the Times:
Normally, the art world is a fine place to make the right friends, attend the right parties, a venue more forgiving than Washington, D.C. But Mr. Biden could have a challenge convincing the public that the word "artist" belongs in his CV, coming after his careers as a lawyer, lobbyist and director of private equity firms.
He has no formal training as an artist, but he said that he has sketched off and on since age 7, and that he wasn't dabbling: "It's something I've taken seriously for a long time but hasn't necessarily been for public consumption."
But somehow he's an artist now. He takes it "seriously," same as he does his taxes.
The Times noted that Hunter was looking for a gallery to display his art, but as of February 2020, art galleries wouldn't give him the time of day.
Will the Biden name turn the art world off, or make it more interested?
"Probably both," said the collector Beth Rudin DeWoody, the president of the Rudin Family Foundations and board member of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Hammer Museum.
Ms. DeWoody had not seen Mr. Biden's paintings, but she said she "loves the idea" of this unknown jumping in. "There's probably going to be a lot of curiosity," she said. "If he turns out to be a great artist."
Michael Kohn, who owns Los Angeles' Kohn Gallery, wasn't so sure.
"Too much baggage," he said, comparing Mr. Biden to actors like Sylvester Stallone or Michael York who tried to cross over but failed to achieve critical success. "The transition doesn't work because the public perception has been established."
"Depending on his skill level, the paintings could be quite good," Mr. Kohn added. "However, it will be a long time before he will break into the art world as I and my colleagues know it."
But surprise, surprise: Now that Joe Biden has cheated his way into the job of president, suddenly Hunter's all the rage and has gotten himself a tony Manhattan art show.
This is an awfully convenient way to conceal payoffs, political favors, bribes, and money. So-called art investors can bid up the price of Hunter's worthless ink-snortings, well beyond their assessed market value, and hand him gargantuan inflated money amounts, supposedly in the name of collecting "art." Then they put the junk in the dumpster or hand it off to political collectors on eBay and focus on the real business here, which is pay-to-play, or favors repaid, a disguised form of bribery.
The idea has already been done in the publishing industry, where publishing houses hand favorite politicians inflated amounts and then buy up their books as a means of purchasing or repaying political favors. It was certainly done in Russia and other foreign countries and very likely here. Better still for Hunter, art-buyers are a notoriously secretive lot. If the Red Chinese plunk down $500,000 for one of Hunter's oeuvres, who the heck is to know?
Writing a book, though, or paying a ghostwriter, is still actually hard. Art, done by snort pipe, and not involving any damaging words that might say too much or incriminate old Corn Pop, is a heckuva lot easier.
What better, then, for greedy Hunter Biden than to scarf up funds on Dad's electoral victory, under the pretext of art? If this is what he's about to embark on, then it's the same old game House Biden has always played, pay for play influence peddling — the black bag extended.
Photo illustration by Monica Showalter with use of images by Gage Skidmore via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0; Acaben via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0; PxFuel, public domain; and SKopp via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.