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Billionaire Gina Rinehart Unhappy About Her Satirical Portrait, Wants Gallery to Take it Down

Rinehart has requested the removal of the photograph from the gallery on multiple occasions, along with her colleagues at Hancock Prospecting.
PUBLISHED MAY 17, 2024
Cover Image Source: Gina Rinehart attends the Emirates Marquee on Melbourne Cup Day | Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Cover Image Source: Gina Rinehart attends the Emirates Marquee on Melbourne Cup Day | Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Being a muse for an artist whose work is featured in reputed galleries is something anyone would be pleased about. But turns out Gina Rinehart, the wealthiest woman in Australia, wants her picture taken down from the national gallery, according to claims from the Sydney Morning Herald and other outlets. According to the publication, Rinehart has requested the removal of the photograph from the gallery on multiple occasions, along with her colleagues at Hancock Prospecting. The portrait she wants to be taken down has been painted by satirical artist Vincent Namatjitra, and is on display at Australia's National Gallery.

Image Source: Mining magnate and business women Gina Rinehart is seen watching on during the 2018 Australia Swimming National Trials |Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Mining magnate and business women Gina Rinehart is seen watching on during the 2018 Australia Swimming National Trials | Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Rinehart's portrait is part of an exhibition called "Vincent Namatjira: Australia in Colour," as per Business Insider. The exhibition features 20 paintings, including depictions of Rinehart, Queen Elizabeth II, Jimi Hendrix, and Namatjira himself, all rendered in Namatjira's unique, distorted style. Rinehart, whose net worth exceeds $22 billion and ranks 84th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is portrayed in the painting with mottled pink tones and a double chin. Rinehart personally requested the gallery director to remove the portrait. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Hancock Prospecting claimed the gallery is "doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party" by depicting her unfavorably.

Image Source: Vincent Namatjira poses in front of his foyer wall commission at the Museum of Contemporary Art | Photo by Don Arnold | Getty Images
Vincent Namatjira poses in front of his foyer wall commission at the Museum of Contemporary Art | Photo by Don Arnold | Getty Images

In a statement shared with Business Insider, the gallery said it "welcomes the public having a dialogue" about its exhibits. The gallery also released a statement from the artist, Vincent Namatjira, who explained that he focuses on painting wealthy and influential figures in Australia "whether for bad or for good." Namatjira wrote, "People don't have to like my paintings, but I hope they take the time to look and think, 'Why has this Aboriginal bloke painted these powerful people?' What is he trying to say?" He added, "Some people might not like it, others might find it funny, but I hope people look beneath the surface and see the serious side too."

This episode sheds light on an uncommon situation in which artistic freedom triumphs over the power and influence of a millionaire. Paradoxically, the debate has probably attracted more attention than Rinehart's painting was getting, which is an example of the "Streisand effect." It means that efforts to conceal, obliterate, or censor the artwork inadvertently gave it more visibility among the masses.

Gina Rinehart attends day seven of the Australian National Swimming Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre | Photo by Matt King/Getty Images
Gina Rinehart attends day seven of the Australian National Swimming Championships at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre | Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

Rinehart made her fortune by turning her father's failing mining business around. She is an outspoken supporter of less regulations and lower taxation and was present at former American President Donald Trump's inaugural speech.

The National Gallery of Australia (NGA) has received twelve complaints regarding the image of the richest lady in Australia. Among the objections were those from athletes who were sponsored by her firm Hancock Prospecting. The artwork will be on display until July 21 as part of the "Vincent Namatjira: Australia in Colour" exhibition which features 21 of his works, and the NGA has refused to remove it despite objections.

In a statement, the NGA pointed out the long history of debate over its collections, starting with the acquisition of Jackson Pollock's "Blue Poles" in 1973. The NGA stated, "We present works of art to the Australian public to inspire people to explore, experience, and learn about art."

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