Tate and National Galleries Scotland (NGS) are suspending contact with UK art dealer Anthony d’Offay after he is accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour from three women with whom he has worked.
The 78-year-old art dealer is one of the most prominent figures in the contemporary British art world. Being one of the biggest donors in the local major museums, d’Offay is popularly-known for his Artist Rooms programme.
Work by Damien Hirst in Artist Rooms
Work by Roy Lichtenstein in Artist Rooms
In 2008, d’Offay was the donor of the Artist Rooms collection which is now owned and jointly managed by Tate and NGS. It was originally 50 rooms of contemporary art by 25 artists who included Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein and Bruce Nauman.
More than 40 million people have visited Artists Rooms since 2009
It is a touring programme of exhibitions which takes place in more than 30 museums and galleries large and small, the length and breadth of the UK.
Reported by The Observer, d'Offay has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour by three women he worked with dating from 1997 to 2004. One of the women, his former employee, said he "grew more touchy" and had "no sense of boundary in respect to personal space". Another woman said she was introduced to d'Offay and she received calls from him outside work. On the final call, she heard heavy breathing on the other side of the phone, sounding like he was masturbating.
The police are investigating d’Offay after receiving a complaint from a young woman that he sent her malicious messages. D’Offay stepped down on 19 December from his role as ex-officio curator to the Artist Rooms.
D’Offay strongly denies the allegations and says he is unaware of a police investigation. He added, “I am completely unaware of any police investigation. If there is one, then police time is being wasted.”
Regarding his decision of stepping down from Artist Rooms in December 2017, he said, “I conceived the idea for Artist Rooms some 15 years ago. It has been a wonderful success. However, having been directly involved for that length of time and also reaching 78 years old, I decided in December it was time to retire as ex-officio curator.”