LA real estate investor Liz Hirsh Naftali buys Hunter Biden art

Purchase by Democratic donor and U.S. commissioner could raise ethics concerns

Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali and Hunter Biden
Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali and Hunter Biden (HeritageBroad, Getty)

Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali, a Los Angeles real estate investor and Democratic donor named to a U.S. commission, is among the buyers of novice paintings by Hunter Biden. The price: $1.3 million.

Naftali, picked by President Joe Biden to serve on a prestigious preservation commission, bought an artwork from the son of the nation’s commander in chief, the New York Post reported, citing Business Insider.

The Hunter Biden sale to a standing U.S. commissioner may have broken an “absolute wall” between President Biden’s official duties and his family’s business interests. It came to light in sales records from Hunter Biden’s art dealer, the Georges Bergès Gallery of Manhattan.

Naftali was appointed to the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad in July, eight months after Hunter Biden’s first art exhibit in Hollywood.

It’s not clear when Naftali picked up the Biden original painting, or how much she paid for it.

A Biden administration official told Business Insider that Naftali was recommended for her preservation board post by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and that she didn’t land the position through the art deal.

The biggest portion of Hunter Biden’s art sales went to a mystery buyer of 11 artworks for $875,000.

Among Hunter Biden’s art buyers is Kevin Morris, a wealthy lawyer who reportedly lent him $2 million to pay off back taxes, Business Insider reported. It’s not known whether Morris was the top buyer in the most recent sale.

Bergès has refused to cooperate with House Oversight Committee requests for the names of art buyers.

The New York Post had earlier reported that Hunter Biden sold five prints for $75,000 each at his Hollywood art show for a total $375,000. 

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The exhibit drew ethics concerns when the Biden administration’s embattled nominee for U.S. ambassador to India, former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, attended the show. He was confirmed by the Senate for the post in March.

In 2021, the White House said Hunter Biden’s art sales would be “anonymous,” to prevent corruption.

Bruce Weinstein, a professional ethicist and ethics trainer, told Insider that the timing of Hirsh Naftali’s purchase was significant.

“If it was done after her appointment, and she likes the painting, it’s less of an issue,” Weinstein told Insider. “It’s more of an issue if she’s deciding to buy it beforehand. Then it might be perceived as a quid pro quo.” 

Naftali is influential in California Democratic circles and a significant Democratic donor who has given $13,414 to the Biden campaign and $29,700 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year, according to Business Insider.

Last year, she hosted a fundraiser headlined by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Naftali, daughter of the late Stanley Hirsh, runs and owns a commercial real estate firm based in L.A.’s Fashion district, and co-founded BIG Shopping Centers, based in Israel. Her brother is Steve Hirsh, owner of the Cooper and Bendix buildings in the Fashion District in Downtown.

She served on Hillary for America’s National Finance Committee, Biden for President’s National Finance Committee and as deputy finance chair for the Democratic National Committee.

— Dana Bartholomew

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