Another sexual harassment bombshell was dropped on Wednesday. This time in the NYC art world.
Benjamin Genocchio is out as executive director of one of the world’s top contemporary art fairs, the Armory Show in New York City, two years after replacing Noah Horowitz, who currently heads Art Basel Miami Beach. Over the years, the Armory Show has attracted such celebrities as Neil Patrick Harris and Matt Dillon.
“The Armory Show seeks to maintain a respectful workplace and prohibits harassment or discrimination of any kind,” reads a statement from the Armory Show to ARTnews, where Genocchio was editor from 2011 to 2014. While at the magazine, a number of female coworkers accused him of harassment, according to a lengthy expose in The New York Times.
Deputy director Nicole Berry is taking over the position, the statement adds.
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Five women who worked with Genocchio told the Times he touched them in an inappropriate way. One woman, former marketing coordinator Colleen Calvo, told the newspaper that during the magazine’s 2014 holiday party, the Australian ran his hand up her pants and allegedly said, “Is this the only time I get to touch your ass without getting yelled at?” A tearful Calvo added that he was “predatory” and “a bully.”
At one point, a group of 20 ARTnews staffers held a meeting to air their grievances about his behavior, the Times noted.
At the Armory, there were further complaints, including one by Deborah Harris, the international art fair’s managing director. In a human resources memo obtained by The Times, Harris reported being “berated and humiliated” by Genocchio after calling him out for “frisky behavior,” which included “lewd comments about the bodies” and outfits of staffers.
Genocchio, 48, told The Times in a statement, “Launching start-up news websites definitely led to conflicts with a few employees, but I never intentionally acted in an inappropriate manner nor spoke to or touched a colleague in a sexually inappropriate way. To the extent my behavior was perceived as disrespectful, I deeply and sincerely apologize and will ensure it does not happen again.”
The former art critic is married to well-known Washington, D.C., museum director Melissa Chiu.
Genocchio is the latest in a string of powerful men who have been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, including Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who also was the subject of a Times expose.