The art dealer/philanthropist Anthony d’Offay, who gave his £200m art collection to the nation and created Artist Rooms a touring exhibition which has had an audience of over 30 million is being investigated by the Met Police over allegations of sending malicious emails to a former employee. The incident also raises concerns about inappropriate behaviour towards two other women in the 1990s -2004. Some were also former employees.
“There was no sense of boundary concerning personal space”
The 78-year-old is currently of interest to police after they received a complaint from a woman he allegedly sent the malicious messages to. Last December, Mr d’Offay quit as curator to the Artist Rooms, a project jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate. Tate and NGS said; “We have decided that it is appropriate to suspend any further contact with Mr D’Offay until these matters have been clarified. The work of Tate and NGS is underpinned by values of fairness, equality and respect and the right to work free of sexual harassment. We expect these values to be demonstrated in the behaviour of everyone who is involved in our organisations.”
The Sunday Observer broke the story on 14th January and republished it on the Guardian Online website. The following quotes are extracted from the article.
“He started taking me for meetings and appointments outside the gallery. He would hold on to my arm or put his arm around me. I thought it was not quite right, but dared not voice my discomfort,” she said. Her concerns deepened when he informed her that he would like her to accompany him to New York. “That’s when things escalated. He grew more touchy and would put his hand around my waist, very close to my bum. There was no sense of boundary concerning personal space.” – The Guardian Online
In another incident a woman stated, “I felt very uncomfortable about the fact that I was in the park alone with Anthony d’Offay. ‘You are being very cruel by not reciprocating my feelings.’ My first reaction was to laugh, ‘You’re married and in your 60s – this is ridiculous.’ “I needed to get out of the park, but he lunged at me with his mouth open. I was in disbelief. I pushed him away and shouted, ‘No, Anthony, absolutely no!’ “He laughed and said that I needed to surrender to him and in time I would. I did not feel I could tell anyone about this because he was one of the most powerful men in the art world,” The Guardian Online revealed.
She recalled another incident, “A meeting at his gallery, with others present, where Anthony d’Offay offered her an Andy Warhol show. “I said in the light of what has happened I don’t think I can work with you and, with respect, I am turning down the Warhol show. He said, ‘Right, you can go out the tradesman’s entrance, that is where you belong.” – The Guardian Online
“Anthony d’Offay called me later and said: ‘Well, you have to mourn us now including all opportunities you have just turned down because of your rejection of me.’ By then I had my family advising me. On my birthday they had witnessed how he had come around to my house and put a rare postcard through the letterbox – a drawing of a courtesan on a chaise longue. He had written, ‘Happy birthday. This reminds me of you.”
“After the phone call, I refused to have any other interactions. I knew that Anthony d’Offay would try to punish me professionally, and indeed he did for several years afterwards, but at least I had my self-respect intact, even if my business missed out financially. I had not felt able to speak about this. After all, the art world is a very small place, and Anthony d’Offay has been a major philanthropist.” The Guardian Online
“Another woman said she was introduced to Anthony d’Offay, when she was 34, as a possible mentor, but felt increasingly uncomfortable. She says he began to phone her outside work, with calls increasing in frequency. On the final call, she could hear water and says that she realised he was in the bath. She says that his voice slowed, his breathing became heavy and she believed he was masturbating. “I felt violated that he had used my voice to service his sexual needs. I genuinely thought I was having a phone conversation with a high-profile German artist. I was in complete shock when I realised.” – The Guardian Online
“One woman, who joined his London gallery as an employee in 1998, aged 25 and was asked by him to become an assistant is now in breach of a non-disclosure settlement agreement”, the Guardian online revealed
Born in Sheffield to a French father, Anthony d’Offay was only 25 when he opened his first tiny gallery near Piccadilly. Within a year he had sold a drawing by Jean Cocteau to Paul McCartney, and he launched a new gallery near Bond Street in 1969. He helped revive the reputations of Wyndham Lewis and Stanley Spencer, and in the year his gallery closed it hosted exhibitions of Ron Mueck, Anselm Kiefer and Bill Viola. For 15 years he organised mostly historical exhibitions of early 20th century British art including Abstract Art in England 1913-1915 (1969) which critically reassessed the importance of the Vorticist movement in the UK. In the 1970s, he started to show contemporary art, exhibiting Lucian Freud, Michael Andrews, Eduardo Paolozzi, Frank Auerbach and William Coldstream. The gallery in London made many distinguished exhibitions by some of the greatest artists of our time including Willem de Kooning, Carl Andre, Maurizio Cattelan, Lawrence Weiner, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Gerhard Richter, Jannis Kounellis, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, Gilbert & George, Richard Hamilton, Brice Marden, James Turrell, Rachel Whiteread, Sigmar Polke, Cy Twombly, Ron Mueck and Andy Warhol, who he commissioned to make the celebrated ‘Fright Wig’ Self Portraits.
D’Offay stated to the Observer on Sunday: “I am appalled these allegations are being levelled against me and I categorically deny the claims being made.” He added that “if there is a police investigation, then police time is being wasted”.
*All quotes concerning Anthony d’Offay were extracted from the Guardian Online.