Collector and Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt Accused of Sexual Harassment -ARTnews

Michael Steinhardt.

EVAN AGOSTINI/INVISION/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

In a report published Thursday morning, the New York Times detailed allegations by several women that Michael Steinhardt, a noted philanthropist and art collector, sexually harassed them. Steinhardt and his wife Judy have appeared on the “ARTnews Top 200 Collectors” list each year since 2002.

According to the report, Steinhardt is alleged to have made “demeaning sexual comments” on a regular basis. The Times article includes stories from the women, all of whom worked at nonprofits that Steinhardt either contributed to or established, in which he allegedly asked for a threesome or encouraged the women to have children. Steinhardt told the Times that he denied the allegations.

The Hillel Foundation, an organization that fosters Jewish programs at colleges across the United States that has received donations from Steinhardt, said last year that it was conducting an investigation into allegations against the philanthropist. The allegations were also made by employees at Birthright Israel, a nonprofit that Steinhardt cofounded.

Also included in the Times report are discussions of two sexual harassment lawsuits that had been filed in 2012 and 2013 against Electrum, also known as Phoenix Ancient Art, a gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood where Steinhardt was known to buy antiquities. Steinhardt was not named as a defendant in those suits, which accused the gallery of expected them to countenance the alleged harassment because he was a major client. Those lawsuits allege that Steinhardt made “sexually loaded comments” to female employees, according to the Times; in one case, Steinhardt had allegedly asked one of the women to have sex with him. Both suits have been settled, according to the women’s attorney. The gallery did not immediately respond to request for comment from ARTnews.

Steinhardt previously ran the hedge fund Steinhardt Partners, which shuttered in 1995. He and Judy have reportedly spent more than $200 million on art over the years, purchasing works by Jackson Pollock, Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, and more, as well as antiquities from ancient Greece and Rome and classic Peruvian textiles. In 2018, nine works were seized from Steinhardt’s Manhattan home by authorities, who said that the pieces were looted from Greece and Italy. Alongside their art-related dealings, the Steinhardts operate a zoo at their estate in Bedford, New York.

A spokesperson for Christie’s, which currently lists Steinhardt as sitting on its advisory board, told ARTnews that the auction house “is actively reviewing all of the information available in this matter. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where a gallery of ancient Greek art is named after Steinhardt and his wife, declined to comment.

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