Northern Ireland

The controversial and remarkable life and times of Hunter Biden, self-confessed former crack addict

Hunter Biden
Hunter Biden Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden, accompanying his father on this trip to their ancestral homeland, has by any standard lived an astonishing and controversial life, particularly in the years before the 2020 election.

By his own written admission, the 53-year-old stumbled through several years as a crack addict during which time he had a two-year affair with his dead brother’s widow and accepted a DNA test showing he was the father of the child of an exotic dancer called Lunden Alexis Robertson.

During that time and to the present day, he has been the subject of numerous stories and relentless attacks over his business dealings in the United States, Ukraine and China. He is still the main target of many on the right determined to undermine the Biden presidency.

His 2021 memoir ‘Beautiful Things’ reveals in detail how after his brother Beau’s 2015 death from cancer, he was left “stumbling, then sliding, then racing downhill." 

An admitted drinker and a dabbler in drugs from an early age, he began to drink heavily while his marriage to Kathleen Buhle began to fall apart.

Following a period of sobriety, he fell off the wagon in spectacular style in mid-2016 after first taking cocaine, then crack from a homeless woman he called Rhea.

"I spent a couple of thousand dollars on crack in those first two weeks, with Rhea serving as my conduit," he writes. She moved into his apartment and stayed for around five months. 

But his life on crack lasted longer and by 2018 he was “finding crack anytime, anywhere". He even learned to cook the drug and spent time hanging out with  “thieves, addicts and con artists" .

 "I never slept. There was no clock. Day bled into night and night into day, I was smoking crack every 15 minutes," he writes.

Along the way he lost a laptop containing compromising personal material and information central to many allegations against him over his business affairs.

In a divorce filing in 2017, Ms Buhle accused Hunter of "spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations) while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills".

She was later more forgiving, recognising those struggles with the drugs and demons following the death of his brother.

Before the final split with his wife, Mr Biden began the affair with his brother’s widow, Hallie Biden. Kathleen Buhle discovered texts between them.

"That gave her the gift of justification: I was the sicko sleeping with my brother's wife," he writes in the memoir.

He adds of the affair: "It was a giant miscalculation on both our parts, errors in judgment born of a uniquely tragic time."

Hunter later wed South African filmmaker Melissa Cohen after a whirlwind six-day romance. They have one son.

While he claims not to remember his involvement with Ms Robertson, Mr Biden accepts paternity and pays child support.

The memoir is the tale of a battle with addiction but also survival and redemption. It was widely praised for its honesty.

But Mr Biden continues to face investigations and questions over his financial affairs and business dealings, including whether he, colleagues and companies used connections to one of the country's most powerful men to further their interests.

And some of those dealings date directly to his time during the days stumbling through life as a crack addict.