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Potential conflict of interest

When probed about a potential conflict of interest in Naftali’s appointment, a White House official shrugged off any conjecture.

The official told Insider that Naftali was recommended for her unpaid board post by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and that she had valuable experience to bring to the commission, which works to preserve endangered historic sites across Europe.

White House spokesperson Ian Sams reiterated the “absolute wall between personal and private and the government” rhetoric that President Joe Biden pledged on his campaign trail in 2019 — describing the first son as “a private citizen who is entitled to have his own career as an artist” and stating categorically that the administration is “not involved in his art sales, and any buyers of his art are not disclosed to the White House.”

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Bidders not disclosed

Hunter Biden has taken steps in the past to distance himself from his buyers. In 2021 — when he first started selling his paintings with asking prices as high as $500,000 — the White House approved an arrangement for Hunter to meet with prospective buyers at art shows, as long as only his gallerist knew the identity of those who actually placed bids.

In the case of Naftali, Biden only learned of her purchase because they are “friends,” his legal counsel Abbe Lowell explained in an emailed statement to Insider. Lowell did not confirm whether the artwork was purchased before or after Naftali’s appointment.

“The gallery sets the pricing and handles all sales based on the highest ethical standards of the industry, and does not disclose the names of any purchasers to Mr. Biden,” Lowell added.

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About the Author

Bethan Moorcraft

Bethan Moorcraft

Reporter

Bethan Moorcraft is a reporter for Moneywise with experience in news editing and business reporting across international markets.

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