The managing director of Sotheby’s India, Gaurav Bhatia, has been placed on 'indefinite leave' pending an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment. His suspension overshadowed the auction house's inaugural sale at its new venue in Mumbai last night.
The accusations consisted of four accounts of physical assault, inappropriate touching and forced kissing published via the anonymous social media account @herdsceneand. All appeared to predate Bhatia's appointment at Sotheby's in October 2016 (he was previously head of marketing for the Indian branch of the luxury goods brand LVMH).
Sotheby's issued a statement that, "in light of recent anonymous allegations that have surfaced on social media, Gaurav Bhatia has agreed to take a leave of absence' to allow a formal inquiry to be undertaken. He has promised his 'full cooperation'. The non-profit gallery Mumbai Art Room, which counts Bhatia among its board of trustees, confirmed that Bhatia had 'voluntarily decided to step aside from the board until the investigation process is complete'.
@herdsceneand provides a platform for the victims of sexual harassment in the Indian artworld to share their experiences anonymously. It last month published allegations that led to the resignation of Riyas Komu, co-founder of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
30 November 2018