In November of last year, after being accused of sexual harassment, Gaurav Bhatia took an “indefinite leave” from his position as managing director of Sotheby’s India ahead of the auction house’s inaugural sale in Mumbai. Now ARTnews has learned that Bhatia permanently stepped down from his post on December 20. The auction house confirmed the news and said in a statement, “We appreciate and thank him for his service.”
An Instagram post by the account Scene and Herd, which is dedicated to revealing instances of sexual harassment in the Indian art world and which first announced the allegations against Bhatia, posted the news on Friday. The sources, which went unnamed by the account, accused him of forcibly kissing and inappropriately touching victims without consent. Bhatia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When Bhatia first took a leave from his position in November, Sotheby’s told the Mumbai Mirror, “In light of recent anonymous allegations that have surfaced Gaurav Bhatia has agreed to to take a leave of absence while a formal inquiry continues. Harassment of any type has no place at Sotheby’s and we will thoroughly investigate these allegations with Gaurav’s cooperation.”
Other notable figures to have been accused of sexual harassment by Scene and Herd include artist Subodh Gupta and Kochi-Muziris Biennale cofounder Riyas Komu. After the accusations were made public by the Instagram account, Gupta denied the allegations and stepped down as guest curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, India. Komu stepped down from his position at the biennial and apologized to the victims on social media.
Last week, 270 artists and arts professionals signed a statement about a sexual harassment in the South Asian art community. “We call on all our peers; artists; curators; gallerists; collectors; writers; and heads of both public and private institutions to commit to the safeguarding of survivor accounts,” that statement reads, in part.
“We’re actually speechless right now,” Scene and Herd wrote today on Instagram, adding that it was not finished calling out figures in the Indian art world. “We work tirelessly to do whatever we can to support survivors as and when they need us.”