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Billionaire Gifts Portrait to Australia’s National Portrait Gallery


If you can’t beat them, join them—as the old saying goes—or, perhaps, give them something else to discuss. This seems to be the attitude of Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, who gifted a portrait of herself to Australia’s National Portrait Gallery, following calls to remove an unflattering painting of her from the institution.

Rinehart, who is the richest person in Australia and a major donor to the National Gallery of Australia, previously requested that a painting of her by Aboriginal artist Vincent Namatjira, on view with nearly two dozen other portraits as part of the “Australia in Colour” retrospective, be taken down.

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An Indigenous man seated on a riser before rows of portaits beneath him.

Namatjira was the first Indigenous artist to win the Archibald Prize, a prestigious Australian award for portraiture, in 2020, and is greatly revered.

Rinehart is currently chairwoman of Hancock Prospecting. In the past, she has made national headlines in Australia for a number of controversies, most notably her decision to stop funding a netball team in 2022 after an Indigenous player asked to have the company’s logo removed from her uniform.

On Friday, according to a Senate estimates hearing, the gallery’s board was processing the approved portrait gifted by Rinehart.

The portrait by Alix Korte was donated in 2019. Korte is a realist artist and the wife of the chief executive of Rinehart’s company, Hancock Prospecting, Garry Korte, who is believed to have gifted the work to the billionaire.

Though the Korte portrait was donated before calls to remove the one by Namatjira, it has yet to be accepted by the gallery, due to conditions that came with the piece.

“There were some conditions that came along with that gift that meant those conditions are currently under negotiation,” portrait gallery director Bree Pickering said at the hearing. “Because of those conditions, we haven’t been able to formally accept … the work into the collection.”

The institution has seen a 24 percent uptick in visitor attendance since Rinehart first expressed her distaste for the Namatjira portrait, the Guardian reported.



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