Pace Gallery Is Launching a Legal Investigation Into Two of Its Top Presidents Following Allegations of Workplace Abuse
The announcement comes the day after Artnet News published an investigation into the gallery's work environment.
Pace Gallery has launched a legal investigation into the alleged misconduct of two of its top sellers and longest-serving dealers, Douglas Baxter and Susan Dunne.
“I want everyone to rest assured that we take these allegations seriously and that we are acting to protect our employees and the culture of our gallery,” CEO Marc Glimcher wrote to employees on Friday in an email obtained by Artnet News. “Since these accusations came to light, Arne [Glimcher, the gallery’s founder] and I have talked to and met with a number of advisors and we launched an independent legal investigation into these allegations, which is being conducted by outside counsel.”
The email continues: “For the duration of the legal investigation Susan and Douglas will be working remotely and we have asked them to cooperate fully with the process. This is a difficult moment for our company.”
Glimcher’s decision comes the day after Artnet News published an investigation into the work environment at Pace, which eight employees described as “toxic.” Staff members claimed that the gallery’s leadership had not taken action against or disciplined top executives despite allegations of physical and verbal abuse spanning the past two decades.
Tensions have increased at the gallery after summer layoffs cut 10 percent of the workforce and a diversity initiative in response to the Black Lives Matter movement was launched under the auspices of the CEO’s 28-year-old, Lilleth Glimcher.
Pace Gallery declined to provide additional details about the legal investigation, including what lawyers are leading the inquiry, how long it will take, and if executives would face disciplinary measures. Although Glimcher announced that Baxter and Dunne would cooperate with the inquiry and work from home for its duration, several employees pointed out that Baxter had already been working virtually throughout the pandemic. They will both receive full pay during this time.
“This does absolutely nothing,” said a current employee, who requested anonymity in fear of retaliation. “And someone needs to be made an example.”
Staff members said resentment has only grown over a flawed internal communications strategy to address the allegations. “It was complete bullshit,” said another worker. “Everything falls on deaf ears here.”
According to multiple employees, Baxter and Dunne now find themselves fielding inquiries about the claims—including that Baxter sometimes set prices based on the nationality of a collector and mocked a woman who had accused the artist Chuck Close of sexual harassment—from artists and buyers.
At least one collector told Artnet News that she was severing ties with the gallery. An artist also said that he was now reconsidering his relationship with Pace. (Employees had said that some alleged abuses happened in view of the gallery’s artists.)
Meanwhile, current and former staff members are continuing to share their experiences with the two lieutenants.
“She said that my thought patterns were incoherent,” Laura Marin Soto, a former assistant to Dunne, claimed of her former boss. “When we worked with a Peruvian museum, she would complain about them being late because of ‘Latin people time.’”
“Douglas threw a phone at me within my first two months of working here,” another employee alleged. “He picked up the phone, tried calling someone, slammed it three times, and then threw it at me.”
Dunne and Baxter have not commented on specific allegations, but a Pace spokesperson told Artnet News previously that “this behavior does not reflect our values and that is why we are implementing structural change and accountability measures to ensure it does not occur in the future.”
Marc Glimcher has declined requests for an interview about the gallery’s culture. But at the end of his message to employees, the CEO addressed the seriousness of the claims. “We are facing our past mistakes, our contradictions and our shortcomings with a true desire to be the best community and business that we can be. Pace Gallery stands firmly against verbal and physical abuse. We will not tolerate a toxic work environment.”
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