Australia’s richest woman demands national gallery remove unflattering portrait

Mining magnate features in an exhibition by artist Vincent Namatjira, alongside Queen Elizabeth II

Nicole Vassell
Thursday 16 May 2024 10:29
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Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has demanded the country’s National Gallery to remove a seemingly unflattering portrait of her from display.

Rinehart, 70, is the Executive Chairwoman of Hancock Prospecting, a privately owned mineral exploration and extraction company, and is worth an estimated $30.6bn (£15.9bn).

The award-winning Aboriginal artist Vincent Namatjira included Rinehart in his current large-scale exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, along with the late Queen Elizabeth II, Jimi Hendrix and football player Adam Goode.

However, Rinehart is seemingly unimpressed with Namatjira’s depiction of her and has lobbied to have it hidden from view.

The painted image features Rinehart looking straight towards the viewer, with her features distorted in Namatjira’s signature style, as well as including a double chin.

According to Financial Review, several of Rinehart’s associates have sent strongly worded messages to the gallery, with the campaign said to have been quietly discussed in political circles.

However, the Canberra-based National Gallery has declined the request from Rinehart’s camp, with director Nick Mitzevich stating that he “welcomes the public having a dialogue on our collection and displays”.

Gina Rinehart, as depicted by Vincent Namatjira (Vincent Namatjira / Getty)

“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,” he said in a statement.

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

The Independent has reached out to representatives of Gina Rinehart for comment.

On social media, some have commented that Rinehart’s attempt to hide the portrait from view has resulted in it receiving more attention.

This phenomenon is often referred to as the Streisand effect, coined in 2003 when the singer and actor Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress the publication of photos of her Malibu cliffside home, inadvertently making it bigger news.

“LOL Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has demanded the National Gallery of Australia remove a portrait of her from an exhibition by Archibald Prize-winning Indigenous artist Vincent Namatjira. #streisandeffect much,” wrote one entertained X/Twitter user.

Another person added: “In support of the National Gallery of Australia being asked by Gina Rinehart to remove a portrait of her from an exhibition by Archibald Prize-winning Indigenous artist Vincent Namatjira, it seems fitting to use the image as a #NewProfilePic.”

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