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Report: Collector and Philanthropist Michael Steinhardt Accused of Sexual Harassment

Michael Steinhardt.

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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 supported or established, in which he allegedly asked for a threesome or encouraged the women to have children. Through a spokesman, Steinhardt denied the allegations.

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

The Times report mentioned two sexual harassment lawsuits that were filed in 2012 and 2013 against Electrum, also known as Phoenix Ancient Art, a gallery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where Steinhardt was known to buy antiquities. Steinhardt was not named as a defendant in those cases, which accused the gallery of expecting female employees to tolerate the alleged harassment because he was a major client. The lawsuits allege that Steinhardt made “sexually loaded comments” to the workers, according to the Times; in one case, Steinhardt 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 a request for comment from ARTnews.

Steinhardt previously ran the hedge fund Steinhardt Partners, which he closed 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 others, as well as antiquities from ancient Greece and Rome, and classic Peruvian textiles. Authorities seized nine works from Steinhardt’s Manhattan home in 2018, claiming the pieces were looted from Greece and Italy. Aside from collecting art, the Steinhardts have a private zoo at their estate in Bedford, New York.

A spokesperson for Christie’s, where Steinhardt is listed as an advisory board member, 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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