By Arnab Nandy
Despite President Joe Biden’s assurances that he has steered clear of his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, a Business Insider report reveals that a collector who has bought Hunter’s art was named by the president to a prestigious commission.
In July 2022, the president appointed Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali a member of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The White House noted that she owns and runs a Los Angeles commercial real estate firm and is a board member at the IKAR Shul. (“Words like ‘synagogue’ can feel constraining,” per IKAR’s site. “We think of ourselves as a spiritual community.”)
The White House did not disclose then or now that Hirsh Naftali has purchased Hunter Biden’s art, some of which had price tags of half a million dollars each. The White House had “seemed to suggest that Hunter Biden’s art patrons came from a rarified universe of collectors who had nothing to do with the hurly-burly of politics,” Mattathias Schwartz reported in Insider.
“Neither of those things has turned out to be the case. Hunter Biden did in fact learn the identity of two buyers, according to three people directly familiar with Hunter Biden’s own account of his art career,” Schwartz added. “And one of those buyers is indeed someone who got a favor from the Biden White House. The timing of their purchase, however, is unknown.”
Hunter Biden’s attorney, the White House and Hirsch Naftali didn’t respond to Insider queries, so it remains unknown whether Hirsch Naftali purchased Hunter’s art before or after her appointment. Schwartz also notes that Hirsch Naftali is a donor—the kind “who often wins such appointments, regardless of any relationship they might have with the president’s family.”
The ethicist Bruce Weinstein told Insider that it would be more of an issue if Hirsch Naftali bought the painting before her appointment rather than afterward. “If you really wanted to choose the most ethically appropriate course of action, that would not involve any conflict of interest, real or perceived, then you don’t buy the painting,” he said.
The revelation of the collector who purchased Hunter Biden’s art being appointed by President Biden to a prestigious commission raises concerns about potential conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. The lack of disclosure regarding the art purchase and its timing, coupled with the individual’s donor status, underscores the need for clearer ethical guidelines in political appointments to ensure impartiality and prevent any perceived influence on decision-making processes.
Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate
(Additional reporting provided by JNS Reporter)
Edited by Suparba Sil