Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, art, sale
Hunter Biden’s White House Art Show. Photo credit: DonkeyHotey / WhoWhatWhy (CC BY-SA 2.0) See complete attribution below.

If giving the appearance of corruption were an art form, Hunter Biden would be a maestro. Since it is not, however, he is just an amateur painter trying another hustle to make a buck (or a million) off his dad’s name. And, let’s be honest, if that last name were Trump, a lot of people biting their tongues now would be calling it a scam. 

They would be right. 

If you are unfamiliar with the story, Hunter Biden has been creating art for some time. His hobby took a serious turn, and he is trying to sell some of his paintings this fall. They are expected to be priced between $75,000 and $500,000, which seems ridiculous. After all, who would pay that much money for the works of a former board member of Burisma Holdings? Maybe people, groups, or countries trying to curry favor with his dad? 

While ethics experts acknowledge that this is not illegal, it sure seems like a very sketchy way for the son of a president to funnel large sums of money into his own pockets. Hunter Biden may not be much of a painter, but he sure seems to be a Trump-level con artist. 

Worst of all, his dad isn’t putting a stop to it. 

And that gets right to the heart of the matter: Joe Biden was supposed to be different. After four years of having a truly contemptible, immoral person in the White House, Biden cast himself as the decent, moral alternative. 

The incoming president was supposed to put an end to the nepotism and corruption that had become so routine in the previous four years. But now, faced with a clear opportunity to do so, he is failing miserably. 

Biden’s supporters might argue that, due to the many family tragedies in his past, it is understandable that he is turning a blind eye toward the transgressions of his son. And this, anyway, is very different from the type of self-dealing Trump & Co. was routinely guilty of. 

They may be right about this being different. In many ways, it’s worse.

First of all, there is the scam itself. This isn’t one of those clumsy schemes of the Trump clan and its hangers-on to enrich themselves off taxpayer money, campaign donations, or bribes from individuals and governments. 

Because the good thing about those run-of-the-mill cases is that people from Donald Trump’s orbit keep getting caught, like his friend and adviser Thomas Barrack just last month. 

Instead, this is something creative (certainly more so than the art itself). It’s clever, it doesn’t break any laws, but it sets a very bad precedent. If this is allowed, what’s to stop a foreign sports team from signing Hunter Biden to a $20 million contract, or a film company from offering him a highly paid role in a movie? 

It doesn’t even matter whether the art is good, which is an entirely subjective matter. Hunter Biden could be the next van Gogh, and it would still look off-color. If he is that good, and his art is worth that much, surely he can wait until his dad is out of office and just paint in the meantime. It’s not as though he is poor.

Or he can display his works anonymously like Banksy, the elusive street artist, who could be the queen of England for all we know.

It also doesn’t matter whether the buyers ever ask for a favor. Ultimately, this art sale looks highly inappropriate and as though there ought to be rules against this type of thing.

Joe Biden should know this, especially because corruption and lawlessness were such hallmarks of Trump’s term in office. While putting the country first was never an option for Trump, it should be the highest priority for his successor.  

There should be a true zero-tolerance policy when it comes to members of the president’s family — especially Hunter, who was always going to be his greatest liability. 

Instead, the White House put out a laughable statement saying that “the president has established the highest ethical standards of any administration in American history, and his family’s commitment to rigorous processes like this is a prime example.”

Say what? The only message this statement — and the president’s inaction — is sending is this: “All politicians are the same and just want to line their own (or their family’s) pockets.” And it’s understandable why people would feel this way.

Needless to say, this has provided welcome ammunition for whataboutists, and an opportunity for right-wing media to talk about Hunter Biden… and in this case, it wasn’t even manufactured outrage. 

Finally, let’s look at the president’s son and what painting means to him. When The New York Times published its first article on Hunter Biden the artist in early 2020, they quoted him saying that painting “is literally keeping me sane,” allows him to put his “energy toward something positive,” and keeps him “away from people and places where I shouldn’t be.”

His battle with addiction has been well documented and, as the Times story points out, cocaine and booze were his constant companions for years. So, it’s laudable that he is trying to do something to exorcise those demons. However, it’s painting that keeps him sane, not selling paintings. And, news flash, if you want to stay away from alcohol and cocaine, then the art scene may not be the best place to be. 

If he really wants to do something positive, then he should donate all proceeds — maybe to fund art programs in schools or to help others kick their addictions. Now that would be a pretty picture.

The cartoon above was created by DonkeyHotey for WhoWhatWhy from these images: Hunter Biden caricature (DonkeyHotey / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), artist (Zoro Mettini / Wikimedia – CC0 1.0), money 1 (Chris Dlugosz / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), money 2 (Chris Dlugosz / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), money 3 (Alexi Kostibas / Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0), square reader (Chris Harrison / Flickr – CC BY 2.0), and studio (Harold Hollingsworth / Flickr – CC BY 2.0).


  • Klaus Marre is a writer, editor, and former congressional reporter. Follow him on Twitter @KlausMarre. DonkeyHotey creates caricatures and cartoons used by many writers and websites to illustrate news articles and opinion pieces. His current work is a combination of caricature, photo collage, and photo manipulation. Follow him on Twitter @DonkeyHotey.

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Joanne Kohne

Hunter Biden has no steady employment background. He goes from one illustrious job to the next, wherever he can fill his pockets with cash.


There are plenty of sober artists.


This would be a better commentary if it suggested a rule that would prohibit such a thing, or an action by Pres. Biden that would prevent such a thing. As it is, this seems more in the orbit of Hunter Biden than that of his father.


Perhaps you could suggest a career path for Hunter Biden that would not upset your political sensibilitíes.

Steven Ross

So, I have three incredible daughters, all doing wonderful things. But I do not control their careers.

You don’t like what Hunter Biden is doing. OK. What should he be doing?

If Walmart hired him as a greeter, would we not say Walmart is trying to gain favor with the President? What about a college hiring him on 1-year appointment? Almost all colleges deal with the federal government. Go abroad to a nice peaceful island without oil imports or exports? Well, maybe he would be conducting foreign policy without a license.

I’ll lend an ear here (see what I did there?)… what job would be acceptable? Self-employed painter seems relatively harmless on the spectrum. Come on, everyone. Jobs for Hunter.

BJ Jones

What’s to stop Hunter from monetizing his connection to Pop? He has literally done this his entire career. Banking, lobbying, Burisma, book, now painting. I would expect nothing less or more from him. Will he donate a penny of it? Maybe help those with addiction issues like himself? C’mon man, this is Hunter we’re talking about. He’ll continue his million dollar life style by selling bad art (I know, I know, subjective) for half a million a pop, not because of any intrinsic value to anyone, but because his Dad is, ya know, President. Hunter has shown who he is, and I believe him. Why people keep countering with the trite “what else could he do?” is laughable. The answer is that he’ll continue to do what he has always done- use his connection to dear old dad to grift as much as he can.


I see nothing wrong with Hunter’s way of earning a living. Some are going to complain no matter what he does. How many wouldn’t help their son or daughter? This isn’t the case is it? No people just have to find something wrong to complain about. Unless it’s them. Hunter is grown and has a right to earn a living his way and as long as it’s legal and not hurting others – what the hell is he hurting ?

Rob miller

Oh not breaking any laws? Like lying on a federal form. Then abandoning a gun in a garbage can feet from a school. If it was me just lying on the form not disclosing I am a medical marijuana patient. I would be in jail or at the very least paying a hefty fine. But hunter has the secret service trying to cover for him yet again.


I can’t believe the apologists!

Dad gave Hunter rides on Air Force 2 to peddle the Biden name in China and Mexico and I don’t know where else.

If Hunter was a greeter at Walmart, no, I wouldn’t suggest Walmart was trying to curry favor with the President.

Unless Walmart was paying him $250,000 a year!

Or, buying up all his amateurish “art” production for $2 million.

I know, I know, beauty is in the eye etc. etc. blah, blah.

Your ethics shouldn’t be dependent on the player.


Let us know when somebody buys a painting, and what they get for doing so other than something to hang over their couch . . . Meantime, I’m much more curious about Mr. T’s tax returns.

Suzanne Taylor

I am so with you, I hope enough to counter the two previous commenters who didn’t seem to get what you are saying. Every word is spot on. I can’t stop thinking about how in our outrage at Trump we didn’t have any attention on Hunter getting a lot of money when he had no qualification for it, and you could put that deal in the place of this art criticism with adjustments for the particular situations. Both are trading on Dad’s name. I have been dumbfounded that we weren’t saying much of this before. That office should be beyond even the hint of this sort of thing. And that it gives Trumpers ammunition makes is particularly grievous.

Rob miller

You can thank the leftist mainstream media and social media for covering up for him and his dad chalking everything that we are hearing now as misinformation know even then that it was true lying to the American people. Which alone constitutes voter suppression making it not a free and fair election. Many voters would not have voted for “the big guy” had the truth came out. And say what you will about Trump his pre-COVID economy was booming and as far as COVID the death toll would be much higher if Trump did not close our borders unlike Biden’s open border policy to the south with the exception of Cuba and why because Cubans won’t vote for Socialism they know firsthand it doesn’t work.

Mike Janowski

“Instead, this is something creative (certainly more so than the art itself). It’s clever, it doesn’t break any laws, but it sets a very bad precedent. If this is allowed, what’s to stop a foreign sports team from signing Hunter Biden to a $20 million contract, or a film company from offering him a highly paid role in a movie? ”

I’m not sure what your beef is here?

He’s asking John Q. Public (at least those who have thousands of disposable dollars) to BUY HIS PAINTINGS. Like David Hockney, to pull a name out of my rear.

FAR FAR DIFFERENT than Donald Drumpf bilking THE TAXPAYERS (that’s you and me, Donkey Hotel) for rooms putatively used by the Secret Service.

This is the first article I’ve read in the “new, redesigned” WhoWhatWhy.

I’m gonna have to tell Russ I’m less than impressed. Go find something actually newsworthy or important to write about. Or publish this screed on Medium…