Carpenters Workshop Gallery is facing ethical concerns and allegations of sexual misconduct

Carpenters Workshop Gallery, a celebrated design gallery founded by Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail, is facing concerns over business ethics and accusations of allowing sexual harassment, as reported in the digital newsletter Air Mail.

“We are naturally saddened by the content of the June 8 Air Mail article,” the gallery said in an email to Artnet. “We do not accept the allegations, which largely relate to a commercial dispute on which we cannot comment due to ongoing legal proceedings. We are immensely proud of the company, the community of artists and valued team members we have founded and developed over the past twenty years. We are committed to continuing to grow and support each other in the coming years.”

Founded in 2006, the gallery has clients from Brad Pitt to John Legend and has grown to become what the Art newspaper called the first design “mega gallery,” showcasing works by the likes of late greats Zaha Hadid, Karl Lagerfeld and Charlotte Perriand, and contemporary artists including the Haas Brothers, Rick Owens and Drift.

Carpenters employs 120 people worldwide at its galleries in Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles, and last year unveiled a $37.5 million club and gallery space called Ladbroke Hall in a Beaux Arts building in the British capital.

A view of Ladbroke Hall. Courtesy of Ladbroke Hall.

The report is based on “more than a dozen” anonymous interviews with former employees and artists. The first allegation is based on two such sources who allege that the company had a mandate to keep prices high through illegal bidding for the designers’ work at Phillips auctions.

The newsletter did reveal that there is “no evidence” that three high-dollar sales at Phillips auctions highlighted in the story were influenced by the alleged shill bidding. Phillips did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

The gallery was also accused by “several” artists of substandard business practices, including deducting the costs of photographing the artist commissions’ work and damaging work in their possession. It also would not have reimbursed the artists for production and shipping costs.

The anonymous artists suggested that the gallery makes it difficult to track invoices, so they can’t find out how much their works sell for and whether they receive the correct commissions. The newsletter also cited a British lawsuit against the gallery by an unnamed artist who claims Carpenters breached his contractual obligations to him and withheld accounting information.

One artist, Hannes Koch of Random International, announced in the newsletter that he took the opposite view, stating that he always got paid quickly and had no problems with the gallery. Koch, in response to an email request for more information, called the Air Mail report a “disturbing read” and said he was speaking to other artists, his studio and the gallery for more information, and plans to respond further after Art Basel in Switzerland, where much of the art world is this week.

Installation view of Chiaroscuro at ICD Brookfield Place, Dubai. Courtesy of ICD Brookfield Place Arts and Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Photo by Ismail Noor

In the Air Mail story, writer Elena Clavarino claims that “morale within the company seemed to deteriorate” when Le Gaillard and Lombrail opened a huge production facility, Roissy, near a small town outside Paris.

The anonymous artists were reportedly disappointed with the quality of the items produced and questioned the gallery for allegedly avoiding transparency about the amount of inventory of the goods produced. A former employee, also anonymous, reportedly confirmed that multiple editions of pieces were sold as unique works and another said employees were also underpaid.

Towards the end of its report, Air Mail revealed a tragic death that occurred at the Roissy factory in August 2015. A 59-year-old bricklayer named Zbigniew Sokol collapsed while working. His colleagues ordered him to rest and later found him dead.

The Air Mail report also hinted that Carpenters may have broken French labor laws because construction workers like Sokol were rumored to be living on the site. After Sokol’s death, the company booked off-site accommodations for employees.

Loic Le Gaillard. Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery.

Regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct, the report alleges violations of office power dynamics, ordering employees to clean up used condoms from rental properties while traveling to art and design fairs, and a failure to address issues when employees go to were allegedly sexually harassed by the gallery. customers.

More serious claims include that Le Gaillard squeezed a woman’s buttocks during a greeting, that he slept with at least eight employees, and that he had a closet full of sex toys in his office. The newsletter did mention a woman who said she had only been treated professionally by the co-founder, but had heard unverified rumors about affairs with young interns.

And some employees claimed that the only reason another woman was promoted at the company was because she slept with Le Gaillard. That person could not be reached for comment. The employees who filed the claim were not named.

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