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Gina Rinehart, a mining magnate worth $22 billion, wants her portrait removed from an Australian gallery

George Glover,Mia Jankowicz   

Gina Rinehart, a mining magnate worth $22 billion, wants her portrait removed from an Australian gallery
  • Australia's richest woman has demanded an unflattering painting of her be taken down.
  • The portrait, by Vincent Namatjira, shows mining magnate Gina Rinehart with a double chin.

Australia's richest woman wants a portrait of her taken down from the country's national gallery, outlets including the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Both mining magnate Gina Rinehart and associates at her company, Hancock Prospecting, have made multiple approaches to the gallery with the demand, the newspaper reported.

The painting is by Vincent Namatjira, a First Nations artist who, according to the National Gallery of Australia has "established himself in the past decade as a celebrated portraitist and a satirical chronicler of Australian identity."

The portrait of Rinehart is part of a career-survey exhibition titled "Vincent Namatjira: Australia in colour."

It is one of 20 other paintings depicting Rinehart alongside Australian and international figures including Queen Elizabeth II, Jimi Hendrix, and the artist himself. All are painted in Namatjira's distinctive distorted style.

Rinehart, who is worth more than $22 billion and is in 84th place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is depicted in shades of mottled pink with a double chin.

She reportedly approached the gallery director personally to ask for the portrait to be removed. According to the Herald, Hancock Prospecting has said the gallery is "doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party" by showing her in an unflattering light.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

The gallery "welcomes the public having a dialog" about its displays, it said in a statement shared with Business Insider.

The gallery also shared a statement from the artist, who said that he emphasizes painting wealthy and powerful people who have influenced Australia "whether for bad or for good."

"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?'" Namatjira wrote. "'What is he trying to say?'"

"Some people might not like it, other people might find it funny, but I hope people look beneath the surface and see the serious side too."

The episode illustrates a rare exception to billionaires' power and influence — this time in the name of artistic freedom. In the meantime, the flurry of attention has arguably brought more viewers to Rinehart's portrait than ever anticipated — a classic example of the "Streisand effect."

Rinehart made her fortune turning around her father's ailing mining company. She is politically outspoken, advocating for lower taxes and looser regulation and last year showed up at former President Donald Trump's presidential campaign launch.

Rinehart is listed on the National Gallery of Australia's "friends" list as having contributed between $4,999 and $9,999 Australian dollars, or a minimum of about $3,300.

Multiple elite swimmers, who are sponsored by Rinehart, have also called for the painting to be taken down, per the Herald.

The exhibition closes on July 21 in Canberra.

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