The Georges Berges Gallery is the SoHo art gallery representing Hunter Biden, the president’s son and an aspiring artist. The gallery has the exclusive right to market 15 of Mr. Biden’s art pieces, some of which have sold for between $75,000 and $500,000 each.
According to publically available records, the gallery has received large amounts of taxpayer assistance over the past year. It first received a $150,000 COVID “disaster assistance loan” from the SBA in 2020, which was later revised upward to a total of $500,000 in the summer of 2021.
And that’s not all the taxpayer funding the Georges Berges Gallery received. The New York Post reports that “In addition to the COVID disaster assistance loans, the SoHo gallery received nearly $80,000 in two payments in April 2020 and February 2021 under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, funds meant to help businesses keep up with paychecks to employees during the pandemic.”
It’s unclear why the SBA approved such a high level of funding for the firm, which only has two employees. The New York Post additionally reported that “While there is no evidence President Biden helped secure the additional $350,000 loan, a watchdog group found that of the more than 100 galleries in New York City’s 10th congressional district, which includes SoHo, TriBeCa and Chelsea, the Georges Berges Gallery received “by far” the largest SBA disaster loan windfall.”
Although the amount of funding appears large and is outside the norm for New York art galleries, it’s more or less in line with loans recently granted by the SBA; the average SBA loan in 2020 was $567,599.
However, that hasn’t stopped watchdogs from asking questions about the series of loans.
One of the main areas of concern, as the Guardian reports, is that it wasn’t until tafter President Biden was sworn in that the loan amount was more than trebled, going from $150,000 to $500,000. Also, as the New York Post discovered, while SBA loans typically allow property to be used as collateral, the Georges Berges Gallery did not use any of its property as collateral for the SBA loan.
Such seeming discrepancies, among other suspicions of impropriety, led Tom Anderson, director of the National Legal and Policy Center, to note that “the funds could have been used to promote Hunter’s artwork – which could be an ethical breach.”
Mr. Anderson also remarked that “This is a unique situation in which the president’s son is directly benefiting from federal loans made to a third party” and that “We’ve reached a new low in American politics where the President’s son gets his midlife crisis art career subsidized by the American people as part of our pandemic response to COVID.”
Mr. Anderson’s NLPC has submitted a complaint to the SBA, raising questions about the size and propriety of the loan.
Additional questions have been raised about the propriety of how the gallery is representing Hunter and his new art career. The Guardian notes that:
“Prior to the LA show, an agreement was reached that Bergès would vet sales of Hunter’s artwork for potential conflicts of interest and that all buyers would remain anonymous to avoid any potential efforts to influence the Biden administration.
Yet, video and photos exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com showed Hunter and Bergès entertaining around 200 people at the Milk studios on October 1 for an exclusive invite-only event to showcase his 15 high-priced paintings.”
You can watch that video here.
Furthermore, questions have been raised about the prices the Georges Berges Gallery is charging for Hunter’s paintings. James Comer, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, demanded an explanation from the gallery for the sky-high prices, saying:
“The prices your gallery has set for these pieces by a new, untrained, celebrity artist are unprecedented. One New York art adviser said such prices are ‘sort of insulting to the art ecosystem, as if anyone could do it.’”
Featured Image By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States – 210120-D-WD757-2097, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99135585