A lawsuit brought against artist Ross Bleckner by his former assistant Cody Gilman has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. The settlement was reached on August 4, and the suit has been dismissed with prejudice, which means that Gilman cannot file suit against Bleckner again.
A representative for New York’s Petzel gallery, which represents Bleckner, said that Bleckner and Gilman had both signed NDAs and therefore could not comment. Marjorie Mesidor, a lawyer representing Gilman, did not respond to a request for comment.
Gilman’s lawsuit was first filed in 2018 in New York’s Eastern District Court, shortly after Bleckner sued Gilman in New York’s Southern District Court. Bleckner’s lawsuit was terminated in 2019 and consolidated with Gilman’s action.
Bleckner and Gilman’s dueling suits unfurled a web of allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and extortion. They centered around a relationship that allegedly impacted both parties’ work and personal lives. According to Gilman, the relationship had been a professional one, and he alleged that Bleckner had sexually harassed him. According to Bleckner, the relationship was consensual; he accused Gilman of using the sexual harassment claims to extort him for $2 million.
Bleckner, whose work has been featured in two Whitney Biennials and was given a Guggenheim Museum retrospective in 1995, met Gilman, who has previously done modeling work, through a dating website, though the lawsuits provide two differing dates for when and how the two began their relationship. Both suits said that Gilman worked as an assistant to Bleckner, doing various kinds of work that included cooking meals, cleaning, and yard work.
Gilman’s suit alleged that, while working at Bleckner’s studio, Bleckner forced him into various sex acts and entered his room uninvited, and that he allegedly made recordings of these encounters “to stop [Bleckner’s] unlawful conduct.” Bleckner’s suit said the recordings were made without his knowledge.
In a 2019 New York Times profile, Bleckner called Gilman’s allegations of assault and harassment “absurd.” Mesidor, Gliman’s lawyer, previously claimed there was no evidence suggesting that Gilman had extorted Bleckner.