By C. Douglas Golden October 10, 2021 at 7:29am
I wish Billy Carter had lived long enough to see his name cleared — or, at the very least, to have seen his shameless opportunism put into perspective.
For those who weren’t alive at the time or have forgotten, William Alton Carter was the younger brother of James Earl Carter, 39th president of these United States. Like his older brother Jimmy, Billy didn’t have the wherewithal to run the country. Unlike his older brother Jimmy, the country never gave Billy the opportunity.
However, Billy made hay — or hops, as the case was — whilst the sun was shining. In a widely documented case of an inept presidential relative cashing in on their infamy via popular culture, the younger Carter lent his likeness to Billy Beer, a potent potable of modest potency and questionable potability.
Say what you want about Billy Beer, there was some utility in it. If you drank enough of it, you might temporarily forget Jimmy Carter was still in the Oval Office — although you’d wake up with a bit of malaise. Also, Billy didn’t brew the beer himself. The Falls City Brewing Co., which assumedly knew a thing or two about making suds, handled the formulation and production, according to the website Mental Floss.
Alas, Billy Carter died in 1988, so he’s not alive to witness the current political climate. Thirty-three years later, presidential “failson” and soi disant painter Hunter Biden has managed to redeem Billy somewhat by surpassing his grift by several orders of magnitude, with Hunter offering to sell his adult macaroni art for prices up to a half-million dollars apiece.
If those prices seem aspirational, consider the fact he’s already sold several of his glorified iPhone wallpapers for $75,000 — and all of these sales come with questionable ethical firewalls and a complete lack of transparency, which is of particular concern since the artist in question has a history of providing “services” that consisted of little more than selling access to his father.
And to make things more dodgy, a report published Saturday by the New York Post revealed federal loans to the gallery representing Hunter more than doubled after Joe Biden became president.
“The Georges Berges Gallery initially received a $150,000 COVID ‘disaster assistance loan’ from the Small Business Administration last year, according to public records,” the Post reported.
“But the loan was recently ‘revised,’ with the SBA approving a further $350,000 to the SoHo gallery this summer, records show.
“The approval came on July 26, in the lead-up to Berges’ exclusive marketing of 15 paintings by the president’s scandal-scarred son, public records show.”
Add it all up, the Post reported, and “$580,000 in taxpayer-funded COVID relief aid was doled out to a gallery with only two employees, according to SBA records.”
Follow the money… https://t.co/fytgLs7raQ
— Rachel Campos-Duffy (@RCamposDuffy) October 9, 2021
Correlation isn’t causation, naturally. However, a watchdog group found that of the hundred-plus galleries in the Manhattan area where the Georges Berges Gallery is located, Hunter’s gallery was “by far” the biggest recipient of the most recent round of funding.
“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,” Tom Anderson, director of the government integrity project at the National Legal and Policy Center, told the Post.
And keep in mind, the funds from the loan could be used to promote Hunter’s finger-doodlings — a serious ethics issue, given who’s benefitting from it.
HUNTER BIDEN IS “Not Good” when it comes to ART, Ethics, Cyber-Security and Being in the Navy. He excels at Finding CRACK, selfies, and “getting away with it” —HUNTER should NOT be in “the arts”—inadequate STRUCTURE for anyone in Recovery. Hunter, I CARE! pic.twitter.com/mimDAWE49p
— Greg Kelly–LET’S GO BRANDON! (@gregkellyusa) October 6, 2021
This is the “art” Hunter Biden is selling for $500,000 pic.twitter.com/MHd8c9SRVi
— Kyle Martinsen (@KyleMartinsen_) October 5, 2021
“You can’t make this up,” Anderson said. “This is a unique situation in which the president’s son is directly benefiting from federal loans made to a third party,” he said.
Berges defended the loan in an email to the Post.
“I received my PPP loan in April of 2020 when Donald Trump was president, along with countless other galleries which, considering a global pandemic was happening, we had every right to. … Most galleries received this loan,” Berges said. “We were not unique.”
I mean, except for the fact they were, at least by the standards of the other galleries in the area. Considering the revision was approved in July, six months after Hunter’s father was sworn in to the presidency, it raises question.
The optical issue was compounded by the fact the Post’s article appeared the same day as reports that Hunter sold several pieces at a show in Los Angeles before his New York exhibit even opened.
Biden displayed his work at Milk Studios last weekend, an establishment described by CNN as “a Hollywood venue that typically hosts video and photo shoots.”
“One attendee at the LA event was the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti — President Joe Biden’s nominee to be the next US ambassador to India and a former national co-chair of his 2020 presidential campaign. Harrison Wollman, the press secretary for Garcetti’s office, confirmed that the mayor had attended the show but said he did not purchase any art,” CNN’s Maegan Vazquez reported.
According to social media reports, there was one prominent no-show at Milk Studios last weekend: Masks.
Los Angeles has an indoor mask mandate, unless you’re a political elite going to Hunter Biden’s art showing. pic.twitter.com/ELgQb8CeqY
— “My Son Hunter” The Hunter Biden Movie (@MySonHunter) October 6, 2021
Fox News reported there were at least five pieces sold but that the buyers would remain anonymous.
“But most of those allowed to buy works are long-term, private collectors with the gallery,” one source said.
My assumption is, however, they weren’t paying for artistic brilliance:
Trivia: Which is Hunter Biden’s “art” going for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and which is the back of an envelope going for $0.95 online? pic.twitter.com/j9n5gkWSxH
— Tommy Pigott (@TommyPigott) October 7, 2021
The questionable ethics of Hunter Biden’s art “career” have long been a subject of debate. Hunter is a self-taught artist whose works haven’t been received with universal praise in the art community, to put it mildly. (“I guess it’s important that wounded men of a certain age and privileged background have the opportunity to find themselves creatively … it’s just too bad that everyone else is expected to pay attention,” critic Scott Indrisek told Artnet last year.)
Without the last name Biden or Hunter’s sordid backstory (which often sounds like one of those semi-autobiographical pieces from the late, great Hunter S. Thompson incorporating various depths of fear and loathing), these pieces would be worth next to nothing.
In fact, they still are, which raises questions about why someone would buy them from a known influence-peddler whose father is the most powerful man in the free world. The White House was criticized for constructing a flimsy ethical firewall to protect against accusations of buying influence; the buyers would remain voluntarily anonymous, both to the world and to Hunter Biden.
This, of course, relied on intermediaries working for the Berges gallery or for Hunter Biden to keep their mouths shut, which seemed like a dubious proposition. It didn’t take long for even this flimsy pretense to get torn down, too, when a representative for the gallery announced Hunter was “looking forward” to meeting potential buyers: “It is like someone debuting in the world. And of course he will be there,” a gallery spokeswoman said.
And now we know the gallery got its federal loans doubled after Joe Biden became president, an expenditure not commensurate with what other galleries in the same neighborhood received.
Billy Beer was crass, gross and in poor taste — but there were no ethical violations involved. It was beer. If you wanted alcoholic swill with Billy Carter’s name on the side, you got it. Procuring a 24-pack wouldn’t buy you any influence with Jimmy Carter. All it would buy you was hooch– and a headache.
Our deepest apologies, William Alton Carter. Your motives were pure, even if your motives were to use your fleeting celebrity to sell America fatty liver degeneration in a can. Say what you will about that, it beats Hunter S. Biden selling anonymous people half-million dollar doodles.