Condé Nast drops Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, and Tate suspends contact with Anthony d’Offay, amid allegations of sexual misconduct

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Just three months after blacklisting the photographer Terry Richardson amid allegations of sexual misconduct with models, Condé Nast has dropped two more high-profile contributors after similar claims – Mario Testino and Bruce Weber.

The New York Times published an article on 13 January stating that 15 male models had reported “a pattern of what they said was unnecessary nudity and coercive sexual behavior, often during photo shoots” with Weber, adding that their statements described “with remarkable consistency, private sessions with Mr. Weber in which he asked them to undress and led them through breathing and “energy” exercises”.

In the same article, The New York Times reported accounts going back to the mid-1990s from 13 male models and assistants who have worked with Testino, stating that “he subjected them to sexual advances that in some cases included groping and masturbation”. The article includes quotes from a photographer, Hugo Tillman, who worked as an assistant for Testino in 1996, and says the photographer attempted to kiss him, and also threw him down on a bed.

Representatives for both photographers have said they were dismayed and surprised by the allegations, with Weber releasing a statement via his lawyer stating that he is “completely shocked and saddened by the outrageous claims being made against me, which I absolutely deny”. However Condé Nast has still distanced itself from the photographers, with Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor in chief of Vogue, publishing a personal statement on 13 January in which she writes that:

“Even as we stand with victims of abuse and misconduct, we must also hold a mirror up to ourselves—and ask if we are doing our utmost to protect those we work with so that unacceptable conduct never happens on our watch. Sometimes that means addressing the fact that such behavior can occur close to home.

“Today, allegations have been made against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, stories that have been hard to hear and heartbreaking to confront. Both are personal friends of mine who have made extraordinary contributions to Vogue and many other titles at Condé Nast over the years, and both have issued objections or denials to what has emerged. I believe strongly in the value of remorse and forgiveness, but I take the allegations very seriously, and we at Condé Nast have decided to put our working relationship with both photographers on hold for the foreseeable future.”

Condé Nast has also released a new Code of Conduct, which includes directives stating that all models in fashion shoots commissioned by the publisher must be 18 years of age or over; alcohol will no longer be allowed on sets and recreational drugs are not permitted; and any shoot involving nudity, sheer clothing, lingerie, swimwear, simulated drug or alcohol use, or sexually suggestive poses must be approved in advance by the subject.

Weber and Testino have worked on many prestigious advertising campaigns over the years, and The New York Times article situates the recent allegations against them in the context of the post-Harvey Weinstein landscape – pointing out that the photographer Terry Richardson was only recently dropped by major fashion brands and publications, after years of allegations of sexual misconduct with models. Condé Nast International formally announced on 24 October 2017 that it had “nothing planned with Terry Richardson going forward”, adding that “Sexual harassment of any kind is unacceptable and should not be tolerated”.

Meanwhile, Tate and National Galleries Scotland have “suspended contact” with dealer and major art donor Anthony d’Offay, amid allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour first reported by The Observer on 14 January. The allegations date from 1997 to 2004, and come from women working in the art world; d’Offay strongly denies any misconduct but, according to The Observer, is currently being investigated by the police.

The Observer’s story includes a joint statement from Tate and National Galleries Scotland which reads: “In 2008 Mr d’Offay was the donor of the Artist Rooms collection which is now owned and jointly managed by Tate and NGS. Mr d’Offay stepped down from any connection with Artist Rooms in December 2017. In light of these allegations, Tate and NGS have decided that it is appropriate to suspend any further contact with Mr d’Offay until these matters have been clarified.

“The work of Tate and NGS is underpinned by values of fairness, equality and respect and the right to work free of sexual harassment. We expect these values to be demonstrated in the behaviour of everyone who is involved in our organisations.”

The 78-year-old dealer created the Artist Rooms project after giving much of his multimillion-pound collection to the Tate 10 years ago.

Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy