Art dealer and former gallerist Anthony d’Offay, who in 2008 created the Artist Rooms programme when he sold his art collection at cost price to Tate and National Galleries Scotland, is facing allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour from three women he has worked with.
The allegations, reported in The Observer on Sunday (14 January), date from 1997 to 2004 and include a former employee. D’Offay, 78, has strongly denied the allegations. The paper also reports that in December a young woman filed a complaint against d’Offay with the police in relation to malicious messages which she had received, and that the police are investigating the matter.
In response to the allegations, Tate and National Galleries Scotland have said in a joint statement that “it is appropriate to suspend any further contact with Mr d’Offay until these matters have been clarified”. The statement also confirms that d’Offay “stepped down from any connection with Artist Rooms in December 2017”.
The statement adds: “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.”
Responding to the allegations, d’Offay told The Observer: “I am appalled these allegations are being levelled against me and I categorically deny the claims being made.” He also said that he was unaware of any police investigation: “If there is one, then police time is being wasted.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Police received an allegation of malicious communications on Wednesday, 20 December. Officers from the Central North Command Unit investigate. No arrests; enquiries continue.”
The art world has been hit by a series of sexual harassment allegations in recent months. In October, an open letter on sexual harassment in the art world was published by the newly created Not Surprised group.
Acting as an art world response to the #MeToo campaign, it is backed by artists, curators and other international art world workers. It has called on art organisations to speak out and act on sexual harassment and the misuse of power in galleries and other art institutions.