Schmitt’s suit charges that Landesman and Artforum violated New York City’s Human Rights Law, and is seeking $500,000 in damages, among other relief. The court documents provide a precise and and public accounting of Landesman’s harassment of her and several other women. The complaint charges that “unwelcome sexual attention” from Landesman began shortly after Schmitt joined Artforum in 2009, when she was 21 years old, as a circulation assistant—her first real job. Landesman summoned Schmitt to his office after she was hired, asking her a series of personal questions while “touching her, uninvited, on her hips, shoulders, buttocks, hands, and neck.”
“Because Schmitt was so young and had never worked in an office before,” the complaint reads, “she was uncertain how to fight back and uneducated about how to do so.” Landesman continued his unwanted physical contact even as she repeatedly rejected his advances. Landesman also sent lewd messages to Schmitt, which continued after she left the publication, including rebukes for unreciprocated sexual advances. One message, sent in the summer of 2013, asked if Schmitt was “ready to make it a bit physical,” according to the complaint.
The unwanted sexual advances sometimes followed important professional invitations from Landesman, the complaint charged. In one incident from March 2013, Landesman invited Schmitt to an Artforum dinner attended by influential members of the art world. There, the complaint reads, he proceeded to touch her “without consent in this public setting, degrading her in front of potential clients and employers.”
Landesman later sent an email giving Schmitt a “B- on your delivery to me,” adding that “I obviously haven’t fully explained to you in a way that you can absorb and resonates [sic] exactly what I am trying to say.” The message is signed “A Kiss.”
Court documents include another email sent in 2013 while Schmitt was searching for a new job, Landesman asked, “are you making yourself climax Amanda? How often? Or I can’t ask that inside your boundaries?” According to the complaint, Landesman continued to harass Schmitt even after she explicitly asked him to stop sending her messages.
“I fully recognize that I have tested certain boundaries, which I am working hard to correct,” Landesman said to artnet News in an email ahead of the publication of its story Tuesday. “I have never willfully or intentionally harmed anyone. However, I am fully engaged in seeking help to insure that my behavior with both friends and colleagues is above reproach in the future.”
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