Amanda Schmitt, the former Artforum employee who claims she endured years of sexual harassment from once publisher Knight Landesman, will be able to take the publication to court once again. In December, Artnet News reported the appellate court ruled that Schmitt could move forward with two of the four original claims in her lawsuit alleging the organization had failed to protect her after she reported Landsman’s misconduct and that the remaining Artforum publishers had bad mouthed her to the press, to her former colleagues and disinvited her from industry events.
However, this was only one of her two rulings Schmitt sought to reverse. The case against Landesman, which charged that the former Artforum publisher continued harassing Schmitt after she left the publication in 2012, would remain dismissed as would Schmitt’s claims of defamation and negligence against the magazine.
In their decisions, the judges wrote, “Artforum’s verbal and written disparagement of plaintiff, especially after she explained her plight and displayed Landesman’s emails, combined with allegations that Artforum sought to effectively freeze her out of the close-knit business and professional trade in which she was engaged, adequately set forth retaliation claims under the New York City Human Rights Law.”
Although Schmitt had originally accused Landesman of “touching her, uninvited, on her hips, shoulders, buttocks, hands and neck,” the five-year statute of limitations for cases of sexual harassment had rendered many of her charges null by the time she went to court in 2017. Schmitt left the publication in 2012 but said that Landesman’s harassment continued as recently as May 2017, when he approached her at a restaurant and insisted she had falsely accused him of sexual harassment. The judges presiding over her case dismissed her accusations in December 2018. In January 2019, Schmitt’s lawyer Emily Reisbaum filed an appeal to counter the dismissal on the basis of New York City Human Rights Law.
After the appeals court decision, Reisbaum told Artnet News in an email, “There is now no doubt, as Schmitt has been saying all along, that Artforum not only permitted Landesman’s abuse to pervade its workplace and prestigious events, but it also punished Schmitt — not Landesman — for speaking the truth about his perversity.”
When news of Schmitt’s case began to spread, other women came forward with similar stories about Landesman, who would first offer to help them with their careers then make sexual comments or unwanted advances. Artnet News reported that over 20 women have come forward with their own experiences with Landesman so far.
Although Landesman no longer holds the title of publisher — he resigned after Schmitt’s allegations were first published in October 2017 — he’s still one of the owners of Artforum. Schmitt’s case was one of the first examples in the art world to gain attention with the rise of the #MeToo movement, but the response from the industry has remained tepid.
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