A lawsuit against Knight Landesman, 67, co-publisher of Artforum magazine, was filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court. The suit claims that Landesman sexually harrassed a former employee for years. Nine women have come forward to accuse Landesman of harrassment although only one is named as a plaintiff in the suit, reports New York Times.
Landesman has resigned from his position as publisher. The magazine's editor-in-chief Michelle Kuo resigned last week.
The only woman named in the suit, Amanda Schmitt, now a curator and art fair director, says the harrassment began after she was hired as a 21-year-old circulation assistant in 2009. She claims her efforts to stop the behaviour were unsuccessful, both with Landesman and internally with Artforum.
A well-known and powerful figure, Landesman allegedly sent her vulgar and pestering emails in an effort at a sexual affair, and is accused of "touching her, uninvited," according to the suit. One alleged email showed a man spanking a woman with the text: "A good old-fashioned spanking was the turning point in the life of an ultra-modern girl," the suit claims.
"Artforum has played by the old rules: let the powerful, sexually predatory boss take advantage of the young, powerless woman who reports to him; maintain the boss in his position of power; try to silence the young woman; and if she speaks out, then lie to downplay the boss's misconduct," the suit says.
When the news broke, Landesman told artnet news by email: "I have never willfully or intentionally harmed anyone. However, I am fully engaged in seeking help to insure that my behavior with both friends and colleagues is above reproach in the future."
Several other people have spoken up about alleged "unwanted touching," including groping, from Landesman, and threats of retaliation. Schmitt alleges, in one of many incidences, that Landesman said she must be "more open to physical contact to succeed," while running a finger down her body.