The National Galleries of Scotland has decided to end its relationship with the controversial British art collector and gallerist Anthony d’Offay amid renewed controversy surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment stretching back to 1997. The museum is the second major art institution to permanently sever ties with the patron following Tate’s decision in early September.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish museum told The Art Newspaper that it would return works currently on loan from d’Offay, including photographs by the Belgian multimedia artist Joanne Grimonprez. Artnet News reached out for further details but did not hear back by press time.
Both Tate and National Galleries of Scotland have worked with d’Offay since he offered up a large portion of his collection to found the Artist Rooms program in 2008. The galleries paid d’Offay a significantly discounted rate of £26.5 million (around $48.6 million at the time) for 725 works of contemporary art valued at £125 million ($237.5 million). The collection forms the backbone of the Artist Rooms initiative, which sends contemporary art to some 77 museums and galleries across the nation.
Several women, including two former employees, came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior against d’Offay in 2018, recalling incidents stretching back to 1997. One of the women went to the police with accusations of malicious communication. D’Offay has strenuously denied all allegations of misconduct.
In the wake of the 2018 reports, both Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland said they would suspend their relationship with the collector “until these matters have been clarified.” But they quietly resumed conversations in April last year after a police inquiry failed to materialize and other investigations “produced no firm evidence.”
The issue reignited last month amid furore over Tate’s treatment of its staff as it cut more than 300 jobs. The gallery announced it would permanently cut ties with d’Offay in early September. In a statement, a representative said that Tate would remove signage relating to the collector, as well as return all works currently on loan from him. “Neither Tate nor Anthony d’Offay will be commenting further on this matter,” the museum said at the time.
The works making their way back to d’Offay include 183 photographs by the early 20th century documentary photographer August Sander as well as 58 works by Modern and contemporary artists ranging from Louise Bourgeois to Joseph Beuys, according to TAN.
Because the works on view in the Artist Rooms are owned by the galleries, the touring program will not be affected by this new development. The important collection of contemporary art, which has expanded since it was founded, now encompasses more than 1,600 works. D’Offay resigned from his role as ex-officio curator of the Artist Rooms at the end of 2017.
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