Pay to Play? Dem Donor Buys Hunter’s Art, Earns Joe Biden’s Elite Nod

Pay to Play? Dem Donor Buys Hunter's Art, Earns Joe Biden's Elite Nod

( – At least two of Hunter Biden’s art buyers are said to be known to him, including Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, a prominent Democrat fundraiser who served as President Joe Biden’s nominee for the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

When questioned about potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns, the White House has asserted that Hunter Biden would not be aware of the identities of the “anonymous” art buyers.

Naftali is a prominent Democrat in California and a real estate investor in Los Angeles.

According to Business Insider, she gave $13,414 to the Biden campaign in 2023 and $29,700 to the DNC this year. Naftali is one of at least three people who have purchased Hunter Biden’s artwork.

“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 U.S. 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 allegedly sold art to Kevin Morris, his top attorney, who settled Hunter Biden’s $2 million outstanding IRS debt.

Hunter Biden’s newly discovered career as a modern artist, a field associated with the notoriously corrupt art market, is centered on the entertainment attorney.

Morris assisted Hunter in creating a plan to sell artwork to unidentified customers via a dealer with connections to the Chinese art market. Morris contributed to Hunter’s contentious autobiography in 2021.

According to the New York Post, the same agencies are said to represent Hunter Biden and Morris.

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 resided 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.”

According to a January Washington Post article, Hunter Biden anonymously sold 12 paintings for less than $500,000.

Although the amount of money the artwork brought in at the sale is unknown, estimates indicate that, despite being a rookie painter, he made at least five times as much money as the typical American artist.

According to a Monday Insider story, Hunter Biden’s gallery has $1,379,000 in sales for his creations.

The business practices in the art world are notoriously dubious. A 2020 report from a Senate subcommittee described how the art market is used as a means of 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 buyer’s identity 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. They performed any due diligence on the art advisor, even when it was well-known that the ultimate owner was someone else.

Concerning 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.”

Copyright 2023.