Artist Ai Weiwei said he would ask the Museum of Modern Art to remove his works from his collection if the museum refuses, in some ways with its president, investor Leon Black, a professional association with the Wall Street executive professional There have been recent revelations about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Photographer Naan Goldin joined more than 150 artists, who have also called for the removal of Black from Moma’s board. And calls are increasing for Black’s alma mater, Dartmouth, to remove his name from the college’s visual arts center.
This pressure is coming at a time when institutions are being held responsible for everything from the diversity of their employees to the professional relationships and functions of their trustees. But it is also coming at a moment when colleges, museums, and non-profit institutions have been redeemed for revenue and donations as the epidemic has led to economic decline, with many loyal people to distance themselves from loyal and wealthy beneficiaries. Has been abandoned.
Black announced last month that he would step down this year as chief executive of Apollo Global Management, the giant private equity firm he co-founded, stating that he had asked Epstein to stop prostitution from a teenager Epstein was paid $ 158 million for the 2008 conviction. girl. But Black will continue to be president of Apollo.
An external review for the board of Apollo, run by the law firm Deichert, found that Black had paid $ 158 million to the financier, Epstein, for taxes and property advisory services over a five-year period. Black loaned Epstein $ 30 million, of which only $ 10 million was paid. But DeChart said there was no wrongdoing on Black’s part.
Overall Black charged 85% of the fees after the 2008 conviction by Epstein and other young girls were included in federal sex trafficking charges until his arrest in July 2019. Epstein killed himself a month later while in federal custody.
Now Black’s altruism is under scrutiny, which includes prominent figures in the art world.
Chinese artist and dissident Ai said in an email interview, “I think that if it takes a firm position to affirm someone’s core values or to work against truth and fairness, then joining MoMA Shame on you. ” “If that’s the case, then I hope they don’t include any of my works in their collections.”
In Dartmouth, where Black worked as a trustee for nearly a decade, many students and alumni asked, in a student newspaper, to remove Black’s name from the Black Family Visual Arts Center. (The building includes the Dartmouth Department of Studio Art, Film and Media Studies and Digital Humanities.) Black donated $ 48 million to the center.
The Class of 2024 Michael Harrison wrote, “This is not a close call,” adding that the center’s name should be “changed at all.”
The publication, an editorial in Dartmouth, urged the college to stop “selling the names of its buildings to the highest bidder”.
“Yes, ending the practice of naming buildings for donors will remove a fund-raising device,” the editorial said. “But we should expect that donors give to the college for something more than intoxication.”
Ruth Cesare, a 1988 Dartmouth graduate and founding member of a college group who has advocated against gender harassment and sexual violence, is among those who signed the op-ed and pressured Dartmouth’s administration and trustees It is presented on local paper. .
“In my ideal world, Black comes and says, ‘Let’s take the name down and name it something better,” Cesare said in an interview, adding to that, keeping his name at the center “would feel disrespectful.” is.”
Whether Black has any impact on such objections remains to be seen.
Philanthropic experts said the decision to revoke naming rights or to ask large donors to step down from the board’s positions is not easy when a situation involves an association with a notorious person, rather than being proved wrong by the donor. Experts said that any decision comes down to whether the association itself is too nervous to scare other donors or the reputation of an institution.
“It’s like a gray area for blacks,” said Bill Stankevicz, assistant dean for external relations and fund raising at Indiana University’s Lily Family School of Philanthropy. “When artists start saying, ‘We don’t want to put our work in your museum, it sends a signal.”
Glenn D., director of MOMA. Lori declined to comment, not indicating that she had any intention of removing Black.
Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said the school has no plans to snatch Black’s name from the arts center. Black also held a chair for Shakespearean studies. (Dartmouth is not planning to remove his name, either)
“For his part, Leon Black has stated that he is influenced by Epstein and regrets his involvement with her,” Anderson said. “To date we do not know of any allegations by law enforcement, media or anyone in independent review for Apollo that Leon Black was involved in any of Epstein’s shameful behavior.”
Black, through a representative, declined to comment.
Institutions that have benefited from Black’s larges were clearly looking at Apollo on how to handle the Epstein Fallout, but Apollo’s decision to keep Black as president of the firm sent mixed messages. (The co-founders of at least one firm wanted Black to get away from Apollo sooner.)
As a result, entities such as MoMA and Dartmouth remain largely quiet, even as voices of opposition to Black’s primacy in the nonprofit sector are growing louder.
In perhaps the most coordinated effort ever, more than 150 artists – including Nicole Eisenman and Michael Rakwitz – were removed from the MoMA board for Black earlier this month.
In their statement to the art publication Hyperlergic, “Beyond their expulsion, we should think seriously about collectively coming out of the imbalance of art in the structures of toxic philanthropy and oppression,” so that we don’t have a single conversation Had to do. More than one board member at a time. “
In a separate statement sent to Hyperlergic, artist and filmmaker Hiteo Stearl took issue with Black’s used Epstein, helping him reduce tax payments on property, including art, which in this case led to Moma’s inaction Shows “Risk is not only the work of artists,” but the art world as a whole.
“At a time when people all over the world are suffering financially, mentally and physically,” Stearl said, “pursuing art-like remit begins to appear for what they are: rights and privileges Excess. “
Asked for his response to Black’s continued service as MOMA president, artist Judy Chicago, whose work is in the museum’s collection, said in an interview that Black exemplifies “the toddy values of the art world” .
“Getting rid of a man can feel like a victory for some,” he said. “For me, this is the whole system that needs to be changed.”
And Donald Sultan, an artist known for his large floral paintings, said, “As chairman he is a very poor man to represent the museum at that level and they might have to ask him to step down needed.”
Black, in the wake of revelations about how much he paid Epstein, has promised to give more than $ 200 million to grants to organizations that support women’s rights and to protest human trafficking.
Despite a growing chorus of protest from artists, it may not be easy for Muma to part with Black, given his previous generosity to the museum (he donated $ 40 million in 2018) and the future from his extensive art collection Gift and loan possibilities of.
Black lent the 1895 version of “The Scream” of the Museum Edward Munch in 2012, for which he paid about $ 120 million, the highest price at auction at the time. He A $ 106 million payment was also made for “Bust of a Woman”, which was featured in the museum’s acclaimed 2016 Picasso Sculpture Show.
His personal collection is valued at $ 1 billion and the majority of it is held by two corporate entities: Nairo Holdings and AP Nairo. The National Gallery of Art in Washington listed Nairo Holdings as a unit in 2018, putting up an exhibition at the museum.
An external report compiled by Dechert for Apollo states that Epstein worked with the office of Black’s family to provide advice on art debts and handle the dispute between Black and another large collector over the Picasso stir.
The report also stated that Epstein was “helpful in obtaining a possible advisory opinion from the New York State Tax Department and Finance regarding a contemplative transaction involving Black’s arts.”
DeChart’s lawyers did not provide any details on that advisory opinion, but Black’s two companies are currently involved in a sales-tax dispute with New York tax officials over the sale of two Cézanne watercolor paintings. The dispute with New York also included a separate sale of a Picasso painting with another wealthy money manager.
Last March, an administrative law judge ordered a hearing on a New York tax division claim that the company that was used to buy and sell the three paintings did not collect enough New York State sales tax and at least The low was $ 3.6 million.
The dispute is still pending.