Only a trick of boldfaced names — and several visitors who refused to identify themselves at all — have stopped by the hotly anticipated exhibit of Hunter Biden’s paintings this week in SoHo.
And one couple will assuredly not be attending — Joe and Jill Biden.
“It’s unfortunate that a father or mother can’t see his work, but it’s the times we live in and it’ll become a distraction,” Georges Berges, the owner of the SoHo gallery, told Artnet News of the Bidens’ absence.
A handful of artists and industry professionals have shown up at the Georges Berges Gallery for private viewings to see the controversial work by the President’s son. A tight-lipped security guard named Theo stands outside the West Broadway venue, allowing only those with invitations to enter.
Among the visitors on Wednesday was Gene Epstein, a former senior economist at the New York Stock Exchange who runs a monthly debate series called the SoHo Forum. Epstein, who told The Post he had also worked as the economics editor of Barron’s, was accompanied by his artist wife Hisako Kobayashi. She is one of 19 artists represented by Berges, according to the gallery’s web site.
Several visitors refused to give their names, and some even offered fake monikers, when questioned by The Post.
Another Wednesday browser to the show, entitled “The Journey Home — A Hunter Biden Solo Exhibition,” was Bill Fine, president of Artnet, an online art resource and database.
“The artworks pulsate with color, deep reds, ultramarine blues, and gold leaf,” said an article published Friday in Artnet News. “Most seem allegorical, steeped in mythology, symbolism, and personal history. Snakes twirl their bodies around totems.”
Berges told the magazine that the show, which features 25 works on metal, canvas and Japanese Yupo paper, will run until Nov. 15, when it heads to the Berges’ other gallery in Berlin.
“One of the things that I never anticipated was the political irrationality that people can have,” Berges told Artnet News. “There are the blind, predetermined judgments, not just of Hunter, but of myself. If people objectively look at his work, it’s great work. And majority of people they come in and they’re like, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect this!’”
Biden’s works, which range in price between $75,000 and $500,000, have been the subject of heated debate, with good-government groups and Republican lawmakers arguing that buyers could use their art purchases as a vehicle to curry favor with the Biden administration.
The Post revealed earlier this month that Biden had already sold five paintings at $75,000 each, which the gallerist later denied.
Earlier this month the White House assured critics that it had a full-proof plan to prevent influence-peddling: require Berges to keep the identities of the buyers secret from the White House. Critics have said this plan is fatally flawed because buyers’ names are sure to leak publicly.
It’s not clear how visitors who were allowed a preview of the show this week were vetted. Some stayed for about 40 minutes viewing the abstract paintings and speaking with the gallery owner.
Berges did not return messages seeking comment.
The Post recently revealed the gallery received $500,000 in COVID disaster relief funds from the federal Small Business Administration, the highest amount given to a gallery in the 10th congressional district, which includes TriBeCa, SoHo, and Chelsea. The disaster relief loan was in addition to nearly $80,000 that the gallery, which has two employees, received under the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.