Yana Peel resigns from Serpentine and Para Site over links to cyber weapons firm

The Serpentine Gallery, Hyde Park, London

In June Yana Peel resigned as CEO of London’s Serpentine Galleries in the wake of allegations that she owns a stake in an Israeli cyberintelligence company. Peel, who has disputed the findings of an article published in the Guardian newspaper and is taking legal action, cited ‘toxic personal attacks’ as the reason for her decision to step down. 

The Guardian reported that Peel has a major shareholding in an equity firm, Novalpina Capital, which owns NSO Group, which ‘develops technology and provides government agencies the tools to prevent terror and crime’. This includes spyware which has allegedly been used to intercept the communications of dissidents in Saudi Arabia, notably the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and elsewhere. Peel responded to the allegations by stating that she had ‘no involvement in the operations or decisions of Novalpina, which is managed by my husband, Stephen Peel, and his partners’.

In a statement published on 18 June, the Serpentine Galleries thanked Peel for her work. A press view for Junya Ishigami's new Serpentine Pavilion, scheduled to take place that morning was postponed. London's Evening Standard quoted Peel as stating that ‘if campaigns of this type continue, the treasures of the art community ... risk an erosion of private support’. 

On 28 June, ArtAsiaPacific reported that Peel stepped down from her role as a board member of Hong Kong gallery Para Site. She remains on the ‘partners & friends’ list for Spring Workshop, and is a member of the advisory board for Asia Art Archive.

18 June / updated 28 June