Bombshell Lawsuit Accuses Dealers Edmondo di Robilant and Marco Voena of ‘Toxic’ Workplace

Curator Virginia Brilliant also alleges that the gallerists promised to pay for her chemotherapy and then failed to follow through.

Robilant and Voena in New York.

A New York court has summoned art dealers Count Edmondo di Robilant and Marco Voena to answer a civil complaint filed by curator and former employee Virginia Brilliant that alleges repeated verbal harassment and other inappropriate behavior by them. The two own Robilant + Voena in New York, London, Milan, Paris, and St. Moritz, and trade mainly in European Old Masters and 20th-century art from Italy and the United States. The suit details alleged events at the gallery’s Upper East Side location.

Brilliant, who holds a Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, began working for the gallery in 2019 as an independent contractor with the title of gallery consultant. In the lawsuit, Brilliant says that the principals created “a toxic workplace environment by repeatedly, regularly and constantly making misogynistic, antisemitic, racist and homophobic comments in the presence of and directed towards plaintiff.”

Lawyers for the two men did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Beast, which first reported the news. Artnet was not able to reach the dealer or their lawyers before publication.

Robilant was served papers for the lawsuit on the floor of the TEFAF New York art fair at the Park Avenue Armory on May 13, the Daily Beast reported, and accepted papers on Voena’s behalf. In all, the Brilliant is seeking at least $3.13 million for various claims.

In her suit, Brilliant says that she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer at the time of the alleged behavior, and that the dealers promised to pay for her treatment but failed to follow through. She is seeking $57,500 that she says she is owed as a commission for the sale of a painting by the Italian master Orsola Caccia, $200,000 for medical bills, attorneys’ fees, $580,000 of back pay, and at least $1 million for sexual harassment and discrimination.

The court documents claim that Robilant repeatedly used sexist and anti-Semitic slurs, referring to Brilliant as a “stupid fucking [C word]” and a colleague as “that fucking Jew.” Furthermore, she alleges that Robilant encouraged her to “have sexual relations with a colleague to secure a consignment.” Brilliant also accuses Voena using racist and homophobic slurs in her presence, and showing her “multiple photographs of one of Voena’s mistresses clad only in provocative lingerie.”

Beyond the alleged harassment that came from the business owners, the lawsuit claims that Robilant’s wife also became involved. “Robilant’s wife recommended to plaintiff that plaintiff loose [sic] weight by following a diet of champagne and Xanax,” the documents allege, and go on to claim that she mailed Brilliant 1,200 “illegally unprescribed” Xanax tablets. His wife, Maya Even (who is not named in the court documents), reportedly also mailed her a generic version of Ozempic “sourced in the Balkans” so that Brilliant could lose “25 pounds before Maastricht,” which is home to flagship Dutch edition of the TEFAF fair.

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