French Artist Claude Lévêque Has Been Indicted as More Accusers Come Forward Alleging the Artist Sexually Assaulted Them as Minors

The charges mark the latest chapter in a multi-year investigation into Lévêque, who has been accused of abuse by as many as 10 victims. 

French artist Claude Leveque poses inside his installation, Le grand soir at the French pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2009. Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images.

Two years ago, a bombshell report revealed that prominent French sculptor Claude Lévêque, who represented France at the 2009 Venice Biennale, was being investigated for allegedly abusing minors four decades earlier. The artist, who denied the accusations, avoided facing charges in part because so much time had passed since the incidents were said to have taken place. 

But now, additional accusers have come forward with claims that the 70-year-old sculptor sexually assaulted them, too.

This past March, a court in the Paris suburb of Bobigny indicted Lévêque for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting two brothers when they were adolescents, according to the French newspaper Le Monde, which first reported the story. 

Lévêque is currently barred from leaving the country and from engaging in a relationship with any of his 10 alleged victims. The artist has requested that the magistrates lift the ban, the Art Newspaper reported.  

The brothers, who were identified only as Y.R. and N.R. to protect their anonymity, are behind the new allegations. Both knew Lévêque from a young age.  

In an interview with investigators last November, the younger of the two, Y.R., claimed that Lévêque sexually assaulted him from 1997 to 2000, when he was between the ages of 13 and 16. The brother said he “was masturbated” several times by the artist, and that at one point, Lévêque attempted to perform fellatio on him.  

Y.R. spoke of a pattern of behavior that recalled other alleged victims’ stories about Lévêque. “His way of doing things is done very gradually, each time in innocuous appearance, and each time more affectionate, based on trust and friendship,” Y.R. reportedly said in his testimony. “Gradually, he pushes the limits of everyone’s privacy.” 

N.R., who spoke to investigators in January, said he was abused by Lévêque between 1989 and 1997. He claimed to have been raped multiple times during that time period, with the first instance taking place at the artist’s Paris apartment when he was 10 or 11. Lévêque also touched him inappropriately at a James Turrell installation in 1995, N.R. said. 

Neither Lévêque nor his lawyer, Patrick Klugman, responded to requests for comment on the indictment or the claims made by Y.R and N.R. 

An installation by French artist Claude Leveque at the Pyramid du Louvre in Paris. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images)

An installation by French artist Claude Leveque at the Pyramid du Louvre in Paris. Photo: FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP via Getty Images.

Lévêque was once regarded as one of France’s most successful artists. Known for his neon light installations, the sculptor had mounted high-profile shows and installations at the presidential Elysées Palace, the Louvre, and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Geneva, among other high-profile institutions.  

But his career took a turn in 2021 when Le Monde report detailed numerous accusations of abuse levied at the artist by younger men. A Swiss museum removed the artist’s work from view and his gallery, Kamel Mennour, “suspended” its relationship with him during the investigation. (A representative for Mennour did not respond to an inquiry about whether the gallery has continued working with Lévêque since.)

Bobigny police launched an investigation into the matter back in 2019, when a sculptor named Laurent Faulon came forward with allegations that Lévêque sexually assaulted him and his brothers in the late 1970s and ‘80s. By the time Faulon spoke out, however, the statute of limitations for such crimes had run out.

Through his lawyer at the time, Emmanuel Pierrat, Lévêque denied the allegations.

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