Enrico Lunghi, Director of MUDAM Museum, Resigns over Journalist Assault Scandal
Lunghi is planning to sue for defamation.
Last Friday, it was announced that Enrico Lunghi—the director of the MUDAM museum in Luxembourg since 2009—had resigned from his post after having been accused by a journalist of assaulting her during an interview.
The chain of events that led to his resignation was set in motion in October, when the journalist Sophie Schram allegedly filed a complaint for assault and battery against Lunghi. Schram claims Lunghi lost his temper during the interview, which took place on September 13, the Luxemburger Wort reports.
The trigger was, according to the newspaper, an interview question relating to the “politics of choosing artists” to be exhibited at the museum, to which Lunghi allegedly responded by threatening Schram of never speaking to her again and ripping the microphone out of her hand, thus causing the injury.
The interview was broadcast on September 20, on the Luxembourgian RTL channel. In a letter sent to the CIMAM (the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art) this past Sunday, Lunghi points out that no mention of the incident was made during that first broadcast. But on October 3, the channel ran the item again, this time accusing the museum director of assault.
On October 5, as per his letter to CIMAM, Lunghi apologized to Schram for his “outburst”, who, according to the Luxemburger Wort, had to take two days off due to the injuries she sustained. RTL responded by saying Schram would withdraw the complaint. (Meanwhile, Lunghi maintains that it was never filed in the first place).
The following day, on October 6, Lunghi says the MUDAM board held an extraordinary session to discuss the situation. Lunghi was invited to present his version of the events and the museum released a statement shortly thereafter, disapproving of the director’s reaction, but stating their renewed confidence in him.
The Ministry of Culture, however, stated that a disciplinary procedure against Lunghi would carry on regardless.
In his letter, Lunghi admits to having “got nervous for a few seconds” and to having “pushed down her microphone because I wanted to talk to her ‘off the record’,” but claims that the short sequence, “a dozen seconds in a total of 20 minutes” had been manipulated “and falsified in a way that I seem to have reacted heavily, which was then underlined in the TV show with grotesque images of Sophie Schram’s arm being bandaged and with dubious medical certificates […].”
On October 28, according to the Luxemburger Wort, Lunghi sent his resignation letter to the Hereditary Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Princess Stephanie, chairperson of the board for the Grand Duke Jean Foundation.
Lunghi has received negative attention in the past by many not understanding his approach to contemporary art. Recent highlights of his program at MUDAM include shows by artists including Thea Djordjadze, Folkert de Jong, Katinka Bock, David Altmejd, Franz Erhard Walther, and Beatrice Gibson.
“I know I can resist to all professional critics because of the quality of my work, but I cannot accept the vile and dishonest violation of my honor and reputation. I will sue the authors of this defamation,” Lunghi says in the letter, warning that he will take legal action to restore his image.
He signs off with a recommendation to revisit the 1974 Heinrich Böll classic, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, which charts the destruction of a woman’s life by a tabloid.
Meanwhile, the CIMAM has released a statement in support of Lunghi, which can be seen on the landing page of the organization’s website:
We artists, curators, collectors, galleries and friends of the arts would like to publicly express our sympathy to Enrico Lunghi. For many years he has been harassed by his critics in Luxembourg, who could not stomach his generous and unconditional support of contemporary art and begrudged his international recognition.
Today he is resigning from his position as director of MUDAM. Everywhere we turn, people who are fighting for free and ambitious art are coming under increasing pressure. The circumstances leading to Enrico Lunghi’s resignation are a threat to all of us – not least because they are anti-democratic.
A press representative for MUDAM told artnet News that the museum is currently working on an official release, which will be issued next week.
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