Update: the New York Attorney General has written to us to say they are assessing our allegations against the academy.
We have written to authorities in New York State and to the US taxation department after an American art school weaponised its resources against an Epstein assault survivor.
Our concern is about the apparent lack of corporate governance on the New York Academy of Art’s (NYAA) board of trustees. It is our belief the school is compromised by conflicts of interest.
The academy has a privileged tax-free status but it has used its own funds to finance lawyers to intimidate the woman, Maria Farmer, who was assaulted by Epstein and his alleged coconspirator Ghislaine Maxwell.
The school was forced to apologise in August for a victim-blaming report it issued about Ms Farmer and her sister, Annie. But Ms Farmer, who has cancer, has not heard anything from the art school.
The NYAA report laid the blame at Ms Farmer’s feet for Epstein’s assault on her teen sister.
“(She) ignored this and the many other red flags, which would have suggested to a reasonable person that introducing her 15-year-old sister to Epstein might end badly,” it read.
So far, four board of trustees have quit the board in disgust due to a report the board supposedly issued attacking the assault survivor. Some of the board members had not seen the report, even though it was supposedly said to have been issued on behalf of the trustees.
Students and alumni are also been voicing their “shame” at the academy’s actions.
According to ArtNews: “… three members of the academy’s board—Ippolita Rostagno, Alina Lundry, and Valerie Cooper—resigned en masse. Two weeks earlier, the actress Naomi Watts also resigned from the board. Their decisions were a result of the school’s handling of Farmer’s allegations, according to an alum.”
In addition, Mrs Guggenheim’s lawyers were approached by the academy to undertake an investigation into the allegations against the academic.
The resources of the art school were weaponised to attack a former student. Academy funds and resources were put towards protecting a donor and a trustee.
According to Ms Farmer her former dean of school & now head of the board of trustees, Mrs Guggenheim, was alleged to have trafficked students to the pedophile’s New Mexico ranch, a claim the academic disputes.
The school is remaining steadfast in its support of Mrs Guggenheim.
We believe there is a conflict of interest here because she is one of the academy’s highest donors. In 2016, she granted $1.1million to the academy. Her husband, Russell Wilkinson, is a joint donor with Mrs Guggenheim and has sat on the board for many years.
There’s an anonymous donor matching all donations to the academy’s building fund. This supported cannot be tracked through tax returns or annual reports.
In July, President David Kratz said to ArtNews: “It is time for the school to close the book on this issue,” he says.
“It drained a significant amount of time, energy, and financial resources over the past year that would otherwise have gone to the benefit of our students. Our reputation was assaulted, our staff and faculty were harassed, and, despite having dedicated the past 30 years to helping the school thrive, our board chair was subjected to unfair public attacks. We stand with all victims of abuse and believe their voices should be heard. But, in this case, the academy was not the perpetrator.”
The art school later issued the “profound apology” after four board members, including actress Naomi Watts, resigned in July due to the attack on the whistleblower.
But the academy was until recently unapologetic about its relationship with billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and it still shows him browsing art in an online promotional video. His alleged coconspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell, also attended in 2009 a fundraiser for the academy. Again, thus was after Epstein was convicted.
An unknown blonde female can be seen viewing art with the now-dead sex abuser at the academy’s 2014 Tribeca Ball. According to the academy, he also donated $30,000 to the school and attended two events that same year. Epstein was also at a 2012 event at the art school, where he was around students.
Epstein, who died last year in jail, was a long-term supporter of the academy and had sat on its board from 1987 to 1994. He was greeted warmly at an event in 2014 by Mrs Guggenheim after he was released in 2011 from a Florida jail.
The New York Academy of Art has a long association with Epstein.
Two former art students who visited Jeffrey Epstein’s ranch told Artnews they were pressured to play games that involved “sexual objects” with Epstein and his accused co-conspirator, Ghislaine Maxwell when they visited his home.
Farmer told The New York Times that she was introduced to Epstein by Eileen Guggenheim and was pressured to sell him and his associate Maxwell a painting.
She told Artnet that she was reluctant to do so, as she had already sold the work to a buyer in Germany for $12,000, but felt coerced by Guggenheim, who allegedly told her: “You will be selling to them. . . . They are great benefactors of the academy and you are going to make them happy. Do you understand?” Farmer says Guggenheim also told her to give him a discount.
Epstein allegedly told Farmer that if she sold him the work for half price, he would help her with her career. Soon after her graduation in 1995, Farmer says Guggenheim brought her to Epstein’s New Mexico ranch and told her to “act grateful and tell him how wonderful he is.”
Upon returning to New York, when she was twenty-five years old, Epstein offered her a job as an art adviser and assistant at his New York townhouse, where she met Donald Trump, among other visitors, and witnessed Maxwell bringing in “nubile” girls for Epstein.
During one trip that Farmer took to Ohio, where Epstein had an estate, she claims that Epstein and Maxwell groped her. After the incident, Farmer learned that her sister Annie, who was sixteen years old at the time, also had troubling experiences with the couple. On one occasion, they flew her from Arizona to New York, where Annie claims Epstein rubbed and touched her inappropriately. On a separate occasion, they flew Annie out to his ranch in New Mexico for a weekend, where they allegedly massaged and pet the younger Farmer sister and also asked her to massage Epstein.