Whistleblower complaints about potential conflicts of interest at DIA art lending will be expanded

click to enlarge

A law firm whose attorneys represented the whistleblower of the Ukraine scandal that led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump and assisted journalist Ronan Farrow in exposing Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein has an expanded complaint on behalf of staff at the Detroit Institute of Arts filed claiming an ethic of violation at the top levels of the museum.

The non-profit whistleblower aid filed the extended complaint against the museum on Thursday. The new lawsuit alleges that CEO Eugene Gargaro “appears to have been involved in this plan,” which includes loaning two paintings to the museum by collector Alan May, father-in-law of DIA director Salvador Salort-Pons. Last year the Museum borrowed Mays El Greco paintings “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata ”and in 2010, when Salort-Pons was active as a curator, the museum also loaned May’s“ An Allegory of Autumn ”, a painting attributed to Nicolas Poussin’s circle.

When museums display works of art, it can add value, and while museums are allowed to borrow art from people associated with the museum, the conflict of interest must be disclosed. Whistleblower Aid says they couldn’t find any evidence that Salort-Pons and Gargaro did this.

Dozens of MOCAD and DIA employees are calling for their managing directors to be removed

Mutinies in the art museum.

Dozens of MOCAD and DIA employees are calling for their managing directors to be removed

By Lee DeVito

Local news

The paintings are owned by the May Family Trust, which could include May and his daughter as beneficiaries. At the time of the “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata “was valued at $ 5 million, while” An Allegory of Autumn “was valued at $ 500,000.

The complaint was also forwarded to the Association of Art Museum Directors. A representative from AAMD confirmed Subway times however, that it received and reviewed the materials said it has no further comment at this point.

“It is unprofessional for a museum director to use his influence or his position for personal gain,” says the AAMD Code of Conduct in part. “A director may not trade in works of art in which the director has an undisclosed financial interest.”

“We don’t think anything criminal is happening here,” says John Tye, founder of Whistleblower Aid Subway times. “But we believe there are serious ethical issues that go against the DIA’s own policies, the Association of Art Museum Directors and the IRS, which has rules about what tax-exempt charities can do and the benefits they can get for example made available to the family of the director. ”

The museum claims that both loans were above average, and says it will hire an independent law firm to investigate whether its policies and procedures have been followed properly.

“The DIA has hired a nationally respected law firm with no prior relationship with the museum to conduct an independent review of our policies that govern our art rental processes and associated conservation services,” the museum said in a statement Subway times. “This will ensure that all best governance practices continue to be followed.”

Whistleblower Aid filed their first complaint with the IRS and the Michigan Attorney General on June 28.

“The first reveal essentially set out the facts as we had them and said, ‘Here are some possible things that could happen,’ but it also said we didn’t have a lot of information and left the door open for clarification. “Says Ty. “There were more questions.”

The most recent filing implies Gargaro. In an interview with The New York Times, Gargaro said that both May and Salort-Pons had informed him of the plan to loan the El Greco to the DIA. “If it is disclosed to me, it will be disclosed to the entire board,” Gargaro told the newspaper.

However, Whistleblower Aid claims that there is another potential conflict of interest as Gargaro and May have had a personal relationship for many years, according to anonymous sources. Whistleblower Aid claims Gargaro did not disclose this personal relationship with May to the board.

Whistleblower Aid also claims that Salort-Pons “took other special steps to hide the true possession of ‘stigmata’ and these steps indicate that he was aware of possible wrongdoing”. The company declined to reveal details of these “special steps” to protect its whistleblowers.

In addition, Whistleblower Aid urges the DIA’s independent law firm to protect the identity of any whistleblower who provides them with information and who fear retaliation. It is illegal in Michigan to stand up against employees who file whistleblower disclosures.

According to DIA guidelines, any potential conflict of interest in loaning an artwork must be disclosed to the Museum’s Professional Practices Committee. The panel is then supposed to find out who is in conflict and then exclude them from the loan process. Then the committee weighs the pros and cons of the exhibition.

“As far as we know, they didn’t,” says Tye, referring to the disclosure of potential conflicts of interest. “And that means they violated the policy.”

On Monday, a group of employees called “DIA Staff Action” called for Salort-Pons to be dismissed by the end of August, citing the controversy surrounding the El Greco loan and alleged cases of racial insensitivity in the museum. Three high-ranking Color employees left the museum in recent years.

A similar coup is taking place at MOCAD, where current and former employees have called for the CEO Elysia Borowy-Reeder to be dismissed because of a toxic job.

Stay up to date with the Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly newsletter delivered every Wednesday.

Previous Owl Rock Capital is investing $ 5 million in a community loan program focused on helping minority owned small businesses
Next Watchdog raises potential Kushner association with $ 700 million rescue loan

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.