The Canadian Collector François Odermatt Has Been Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Assault

The artist Natalie Reis has accused the collector of rape.

François Odermatt at the Albright-Knox Gallery in November 2017. Photograph via François Odermatt's Facebook.

The latest art-world figure to stand accused of sexual misconduct is Canadian collector François Odermatt. An investigation by the French-language Montreal newspaper La Presse reports that multiple women have accused Odermatt of inappropriate behavior ranging from unwanted touching to, in one case, rape. He has denied any wrongdoing. The article follows a number of allegations made against prominent individuals in the art industry, including former Artforum co-publisher Knight Landesman and Armory Show director Benjamin Genocchio.

Currently, Odermatt is a sponsor of Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s exhibition of work by Takashi Murakami, which opened in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month.

Twelve people told La Presse they had experienced or were aware of Odermatt’s alleged behavior. The allegations against him include an accusation of rape put forward by artist Natalie Reis. Odermatt claims the incident, which took place in 2013, was consensual.

Reis claims that she was at fellow artist Marc Séguin’s studio space at Arsenal Contemporary Art, a private exhibition space and artists’ residency program in Montreal, when Odermatt raped her. She went to the police but no charges were filed. She later made an installation about her experience, which she presented at Montreal’s Papier art fair in April of this year, but she did not name Odermatt at the time.

Reached on Thursday via Facebook, Odermatt told artnet News: “That matter was fully investigated by police that i volontired [sic] for polygraph and that the case was dropped without any accusations. So if media want to revisit a case that was investigated and closed i cannot comment any further.”

“All that public lynching is a bit crazy specially when no charges are out,” he added. “And irremidble dammages [sic] are done with that. The justice system is being bypass and media lynching replaces justice system.”

“People how [sic] really know me know how i am …. kind generous and helping lots of people,” Odermatt said.

The Presse article quotes an anonymous gallery owner who said that “we notified our employees never to find themselves alone in his [Odermatt’s] presence.”

Collector Sandra Schlemm also told the newspaper that Odermatt once came up behind her and kissed her on the neck at a funeral service. Photographer Éliane Excoffier has accused Odermatt of putting his hands down her pants to touch her butt during a social event, and, on a separate occasion at a restaurant, forcibly kissing her on the mouth. “I told my friend that I never wanted to be in his presence again, because this man had a predatory nature,” she told La Presse. Odermatt said he did not remember either incident.

“It’s true that I have a warm nature. I also kiss boys. I am expressive in public,” Odermatt told La Presse, acknowledging that his behavior might occasionally offend but denying any wrongdoing. “An accusation like that of Natalie Reis is the only one I’ve had in my life. It happened one time. I have enough success with women in general. I do not need to do that.”

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