Britain’s venerable Spectator magazine has created a World edition for the United States. Edited by Dominic Green, Spectator World has greatly enhanced our media landscape.
Oliver Wiseman is The Spectator’s DC Diarist. He provides daily email updates to Spectator subscribers (subscribe here). On Thursday morning he led off off with a report on the man whom Tucker Carlson has dubbed America’s greatest artist. With Oliver’s permission, I am posting his Hobnobbing With Hunter entry below the break.
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Hunter Biden’s big art show in Hollywood looked to be quite the party. The Daily Mail has pictures of the star-studded affair, where Hunter, sporting his West Coast uniform of a Western-style denim shirt, rubbed shoulders with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard. Moby showed up, as did Shepard Fairey (creator of the Obama/Hope poster).
Let’s start with something obvious: Hunter’s paintings are not worth their $500,000 price tag. As James Panero put it in The Spectator recently, “The abstractions he creates, like the sentiments he conveys, are the stuff of dorm-room posters.”
“Actually,” I can hear my free-market friends sniffily point out, “something only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.” True enough. And that’s the point, isn’t it? What the price tags reveal is not Hunter’s artistic brilliance, but the fact that this is not a market for those looking to decorate the walls of their ski lodge. Rather, it is a market for political influence.
That fact is plainly obvious to anyone not paid to make excuses for the president and his family. As embarrassing as the idea that Hunter’s pictures are worth half a million dollars is the supposed ethical safeguard imposed by the White House. Their solution is use secrecy to prevent corruption by allowing only anonymous purchases of the art. What could possibly go wrong? And to make matters worse, the enforcement of this half-hearted workaround is not down to the White House or any official body but the gallerist responsible for, and profiting from, the sale of the art. Unsurprisingly, former White House ethics chiefs from both parties have roundly condemned the solution.
“I point you to the gallerist,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki when fending off questions about the exhibition yesterday, confirming that the Biden administration is outsourcing its anti-corruption operation to an art dealer.
No one should be anything other than happy that Hunter has found peace in his painting. He has escaped from what he refers to in his recent memoir as the “Four Horseman of the Crackocalypse.” Good for him. But his artwork sales suggest he hasn’t kicked his career-long habit of profiting off his proximity to power.