Report: Major Democrat Donor Bought Hunter’s Art, Named to Prestigious Commission by Joe Biden

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Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden reportedly knows the identities of at least two of his art buyers, one of whom is reportedly a large Democrat donor, Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, who President Joe Biden placed as the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

The White House previously claimed Hunter Biden would not know who the identities of the “anonymous” art buyers when questioned about conflicts of interest and ethics concerns.

Naftali is Los Angeles real estate investor and is influential in California Democrat circles. In 2023, she donated $13,414 to the Biden campaign, along with $29,700 to the Democrat National Campaign Committee this year, according to Business Insider, which reported Naftali is one of at least three buyers of Hunter Biden’s art:

In July 2022, eight months after Hunter Biden’s first art opening, Joe Biden announced Hirsh Naftali’s appointment to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. It is unclear whether Hirsh’s purchase of Hunter Biden’s artwork occurred before or after that appointment.

An administration official told Insider that her appointment had been recommended to Biden by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They said there was no connection between her art purchases and her appointment. They said that Hirsh Naftali was deeply involved with Jewish causes in Los Angeles and Israel — valuable background for a commission that works to preserve many historic Jewish sites across Europe. They noted her service on a policy board at the RAND Corporation, a prominent think tank. Membership on the commission is an unpaid position that is often filled by campaign donors, family members, and political allies — the same crowd that often winds up with US ambassadorial appointments. Hirsh Naftali’s fundraising activities mark her as the kind of well-connected donor who often wins such appointments, regardless of any relationship they might have with the president’s family. But they do not address the possibility that Hunter Biden might have voiced his support for her appointment.

Hunter Biden also reportedly sold art to his top lawyer, Kevin Morris, who also paid Hunter Biden’s unpaid IRS bill of about $2 million. The entertainment lawyer is at the center of Hunter Biden’s new-found career of painting modern art, an occupation connected to the art market known for corruption.

Morris helped Hunter forge a framework to sell art to anonymous buyers through a dealer with ties to the Chinese art market. Morris was also involved in Hunter’s 2021 controversial memoir.

FLASHBACK: White House Under Fire After Hunter Biden Art Show Ethics Debacle
The White House

According to the New York Post, both Morris and Hunter Biden are represented by the same agents.

The third buyer’s name is unknown to Insider. But this single buyer bought 11 Hunter Biden artworks for a total of $875,000, Insider reported:

That one buyer represents the majority of the $1,379,000 in receipts that Hunter Biden’s gallery received for his work, the documents show, with the gallery receiving a 40 to 45 percent commission. The $875,000 art buyer resides outside New York and purchased some of Hunter Biden’s largest format works, including a 12-foot-long red-white-and-blue piece painted on sheet metal and entitled “Pandemonium.”

In total, Hunter Biden anonymously sold about 12 paintings for less than $500,000, the Washington Post reported in January. It is unclear how much money the art generated at the sale, but estimates suggest he earned at least five times more than the average American artist — all while being a novice painter.

Insider reported Monday that Hunter Biden’s gallery has $1,379,000 in receipts for his work.

The art industry is known for shady business transactions. A Senate subcommittee report detailed in 2020 how the art market serves as a vehicle for money laundering:

The art industry is considered the largest, legal unregulated industry in the United States. Unlike financial institutions, the art industry is not subject to Bank Secrecy Act’s (“BSA”) requirements, which mandate detailed procedures to prevent money laundering and to verify a customer’s identity. While the BSA does not apply to art transactions by art dealers and auction houses, sanctions do. No U.S. person or entity is allowed to do business with a sanctioned individual or entity.

While the art market is not regulated by the BSA, it is governed by unwritten rules. A large number of art sales happen through intermediaries referred to as “art advisors” who can represent both purchasers and sellers. In a typical transaction, a purchaser may not ask who owns the piece of art they are purchasing; the seller may not ask for whom it is being purchased or the origin of the money. And in general an art advisor would be reluctant to reveal the identity of their client for fear of being cut out of the deal and losing the business.

Because the art industry is not subject to BSA requirements, when a piece of art is sold, there is no legal requirement for the selling party to confirm the identity of the buyer or that the buyer is not laundering money through the purchase. While the four biggest auction houses have voluntary anti-money laundering (“AML”) programs, the employees who facilitated art purchases in the Subcommittee’s case study said they never asked the art advisor the identity of his client. Instead, the auction houses considered the art advisor the principal purchaser and performed any due diligence on the art advisor, even when it was well-known that the ultimate owner was someone else. With regard to the funds used to purchase art, the auction houses told the Subcommittee they rely on financial institutions to ensure the integrity of the funds, even though the auction houses interact directly with the buyer. But these voluntary AML policies are just for sales through the auction houses. As stated above, the majority of art sales are private transactions. A private dealer interviewed by the Subcommittee stated she had no written AML policies, tries to work with people she knows and trusts, looks for red flags, and relies on her gut. She also explained that her practices have significantly changed over the years and that she also relies on advice from AML lawyers.

Secrecy, anonymity, and a lack of regulation create an environment ripe for laundering money and evading sanctions.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.

1 COMMENT

  1. If anybody doesn’t see that that’s nothing but a money laundering cover up!!! the guy doesn’t even hold the brush correctly he looks like his dad holding his crayon as he signs illegal executive orders

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