Jerry Gorovoy, curator and longtime assistant of renowned sculptor Louise Bourgeois, has been accused of rape in a lawsuit filed by one of Bourgeois’ former archivists, the Daily Beast reported Wednesday.
The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, accuses Gorovoy, 69, of grooming and financially and sexually abusing Blair David Hines (who goes by David) between December 2000 and June 2002. Hines, who was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was then a “socially-inexperienced aspiring artist,” with “minimal connections to New York City and no connection to anyone in the City’s insular art world,” the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Gorovoy offered him the chance to work as the French-American sculptor’s archivist but, after Hines refused his advances, the older man threatened to “destroy” him by “taking away his ability to financially survive in New York and the roof over [his] head, by removing [his] ability to legally remain in the United States, and by blackballing him in the New York art world.”
Hines eventually left Gorovoy’s employment, moving from New York to Portugal, but says that his personal life and career were “irreversibly altered” by the experience, developing PTSD and suicidal ideation, among other mental disorders. According to the lawsuit, Gorovoy currently helps run Bourgeois’ foundation and owns a considerable collection of her multi-million-dollar sculptures.
Bourgeois’ Easton Foundation did not respond to a request for comment at presstime.
Gorovoy’s lawyer said in a statement to the Daily Beast, “The fabricated allegations in the complaint were initially made as part of a demand that Mr. Gorovoy pay the plaintiff millions of dollars to avoid the filing of a lawsuit. Following that demand, we thoroughly investigated the claims that are in the complaint and are confident that they are completely baseless and falsely sensationalized. We intend to prove that and look forward to all the facts being revealed.”
Hines filed the lawsuit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which offers survivors of sexual assault a one-year window to pursue civil claims in court that otherwise fall outside the statute of limitations. The “lookback” period opened in November 2022 and closes this month.
Per the Daily Beast report, Hines arrived for the first time in New York in September 2000 to pursue a fine art career. However, he struggled to find traction for his work, and after three months was prepared to return to Canada, when an acquaintance introduced him to Gorovoy.
Gorovoy “positioned himself as Ms. Bourgeois’s lifeline to the outside world and began exercising significant control over her life, including her personal life, artwork, and finances,” according to Hines’ lawsuit. The document notes that in 1997 Gorovoy helped establish the Chelsea art gallery Cheim & Read “by orchestrating Ms. Bourgeois’s move to the new gallery, further cementing [his] place as an influential force in New York’s art scene.”
Gorovoy allegedly visited Hines’ studio and expressed indifference to his art, but then returned two days later to “apologize for being rude” and to offer to buy a painting. Hines, who was at risk of deportation to Canada due to his visa status, left for Toronto soon after. The lawsuit alleges that Gorovoy actively pursued Hines to return to New York, promising to get him a studio and well-connected job in the art industry.
Gorovoy “also sent Mr. Hines unsolicited expensive art books, including one personally inscribed to Mr. Hines by Ms. Bourgeois,” the lawsuit claims.
Hines returned to New York and began living in an apartment allegedly supplied by Gorovoy and working off-the-books as an archivist for Bourgeois. Hines also says Gorovoy let him charge expenses to Bourgeois’ account at the Modern Art Foundry in Queens and promised to include his art in a group show at Cheim & Read alongside Bourgeois, Andy Warhol, and other high-profile artists.
“Within a matter of months after Mr. Hines’s return to New York, and by Mr. Gorovoy’s design, nearly every aspect of Mr. Hines’s personal and professional life—from his housing, to his work, to his art materials and career prospects—was provided by, controlled by, and could be taken away by Mr. Gorovoy,” the lawsuit says. It continues to allege that Gorovoy proposed the two become lovers and after Hines refused, Gorovoy masturbated in front of a “mortified” Hines.
The suit alleges that this began a period of Gorovoy’s sexual and financial abuse of Hines, who had been given a $400-a-week internship at Cheim & Read.
“Mr. Gorovoy regularly reminded Mr. Hines that he had the power to take away everything from Mr. Hines if he wanted to,” the lawsuit states. “On one occasion, Mr. Gorovoy threatened to have Mr. Hines’s visa taken away. Mr. Hines knew that at any given moment and with no notice, Mr. Gorovoy could evict Mr. Hines from his apartment (leaving him homeless) and cut off the $400 weekly payments he received from Cheim & Read (leaving him penniless). And he believed that Mr. Gorovoy had the power to ensure that Mr. Hines never succeeded in the art world.”
According to Hines, the imbalance of power compelled him to visit Gorovoy’s West Village loft, where the suit alleges Gorovoy “repeatedly” raped Hines. The suit continues that the assaults stopped for a brief period when Gorovoy’s then-partner returned to New York, but in April 2002, as Hines prepared to fly to Belgium for a solo gallery exhibition, Gorovoy allegedly entered Hines’ apartment without warning and sexually assaulted him. The suit says Hines was attacked for the final time that June, after which he fled to Portugal.
Hines says in the document that it wasn’t until the #MeToo movement, which saw powerful figures across creative industries be openly accused of sexual offenses, that he felt safe moving forward with his claims. He is seeking undetermined compensatory and punitive damages, in addition to lawyers’ fees.
“After privately struggling for over 16 years to survive the trauma wrought by Mr. Gorovoy’s sexual abuse and rapes, Mr. Hines sought a way to hold Mr. Gorovoy accountable for his actions,” the lawsuit states. “With the passage of the Adult Survivors Act and the lookback window of the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act, Mr. Hines has the opportunity to bring his rapist to face justice in court.”