Australian billionaire urges gallery to remove ‘unflattering’ portrait

The portrait depicts the richest woman in Australia with reddish pale skin, a large forehead and creases under her chin

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Imitation is apparently not the sincerest form of flattery for Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart.

She has demanded that the National Gallery of Australia, located in Canberra, the country’s capital, be taken down, according to several reports online.

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The portrait, which has been deemed arguably “unflattering” by The Guardian, depicts Rinehart with reddish pale skin, a large forehead and creases under her chin.

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One person who posted a photo of the portrait on X, formerly Twitter, facetiously asked why Rinehart had an issue with the painting.

“This is legitimately as good as she’s looked for decades,” the person wrote.

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The painting was done by Aboriginal artist Vincent Namatjira, a “celebrated portraitist and a satirical chronicler of Australian identity,” it says on the National Gallery of Australia’s website. In 2020, he became the first Indigenous artist to win the $100,000 Archibald Prize for portraiture, ARTNews reported.

Rinehart is just one in a sea of faces painted by Namatjira that are being displayed at the gallery until July 21. Namatjira has created portraits of a wide range of people, from Queen Elizabeth II to violent “bushranger” and outlaw Ned Kelly.

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Rinehart, who is the Executive Chairman at mining and agricultural company Hancock Prospecting, urged her associates to ask the gallery to remove the portrait when her initial request was denied, according to the The Sydney Morning-Herald. She even asked athletes sponsored by Hancock to do the same.

Despite her disapproval of the portrait, Rinehart is listed under the “friends and members” category of the gallery’s supporters, meaning she has donated between $4,999 and $9,999.

It appears, at least for now, the portrait will remain on display at the gallery.

“Since 1973, when the National Gallery acquired Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles, there has been a dynamic discussion on the artistic merits of works in the national collection, and/or on display at the gallery,” a statement from the gallery said.

“We present works of art to the Australian public to inspire people to explore, experience, and learn about art.”

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