Benjamin Genocchio Is No Longer Director of the Armory Show Following Sexual Harassment Allegations
Nicole Berry, the fair's deputy director, has assumed the role of director.
Benjamin Genocchio, the director of New York’s Armory Show, will be replaced by the fair’s deputy director Nicole Berry after sexual harassment allegations came to light in a report in the New York Times. The allegations involved both Genocchio’s time at the Armory Show and at previous positions, including as editor-in-chief of artnet News and editorial director of Blouin Artinfo. (His tenure at artnet predates this reporter’s by about two years, although we overlapped at Louise Blouin Media for a few months in 2012.)
A representative for the fair declined to comment on whether Genocchio’s leave would be temporary or permanent. Berry joined the Armory Show last year after serving as deputy director of Expo Chicago for five years.
“The Armory Show seeks to maintain a respectful workplace and prohibits harassment or discrimination of any kind,” a spokesperson for the fair said in a statement. “After allegations were made against Mr. Genocchio in the spring of 2017, we immediately followed our procedures and initiated an investigation using outside counsel. We concluded that Mr. Genocchio’s conduct did not rise to the level of sexual harassment. We have only recently learned of the allegations related to Mr. Genocchio’s previous employment. At this time, Deputy Director Nicole Berry has assumed the role of Executive Director of the Armory Show. Nicole and the entire Armory team are committed to producing a very successful fair in March 2018.”
Genocchio has been a prevalent figure in the New York art scene since he moved to the US from Australia in 2001. In that time, he has also worked as an arts reporter for the New York Times. He served as editor-in-chief of artnet News from January 2014 to January 2016.
Five women told the Times they experienced unwanted touching by Genocchio and eight said that he had made sexually inappropriate, ageist, or sexist comments to them. “He was incredibly aggressive; he would always touch women,” a former employee of Genocchio’s, Orit Gat, told the Times.
The news comes just two weeks after a former Artforum employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the magazine’s longtime co-publisher Knight Landesman, part of what some are calling a “Harvey effect” rippling through the entertainment, art, and media communities.
Some told the Times that they believe those who supervised Genocchio—including artnet’s own management and Vornado Realty Trust, which owns the Armory Show—did not do enough to stop his behavior.
In April, Vornado Realty Trust acknowledged in a memo obtained by the Times that Genocchio had “referred to another female employee as arm candy and previously referred to others as sweetie.” The company hired outside counsel to investigate the claims but ultimately determined that his actions did not amount to sexual harassment.
In a statement to the Times, Genocchio said: “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 article raises questions about artnet’s handling of the complaints. In a statement provided to this reporter, the company said:
As you can well imagine, artnet is deeply concerned about Robin Pogrebin’s inferences about the culture here, but artnet respects the privacy of its employees—past and present—and therefore, we will not comment on specific personnel matters, even when characterizations by others of such matters are inaccurate.
From its inception, artnet has been committed to creating and maintaining a work environment that is free of harassment of any kind. We have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure that everyone with whom we conduct business finds our work environment to be a welcoming and respectful one.
We encourage our employees to come forward to artnet with workplace issues or concerns, including through an anonymous online portal, where employees can provide feedback, suggestions or complaints that go directly to our Human Resources Department. When employees raise issues, or when we otherwise become aware of issues needing attention, we address those issues promptly and effectively. If we conclude that an employee has violated our policies or has fallen short of our behavioral expectations—no matter who that employee is—appropriate remedial or corrective action is taken.
Ours is a work environment in which female employees have flourished and continue to do so: a majority of our full-time employees are female; more women than men populate our Senior Leadership Team; and women on average tend to be employed by artnet longer than men.
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