Sotheby’s has opened a formal inquiry into accusations of sexual misconduct against Gaurav Bhatia, its Managing Director in India and head of operations for south Asia. He has taken an indefinite leave of absence in light of the accusations, which were posted to the Instagram account Scene and Herd, which allows victims of sexual misconduct in the Indian art world to tell their stories anonymously. Four posts implicating Bhatia were uploaded to the account on November 13, November 16, November 18, and November 21.
The accusations include one alleged incident specifying that Bhatia “works at an auction house,” while two others refer to his behavior at a “luxury firm” in 2014 and “a few years ago.” Before joining Sotheby’s in 2016, Bhatia had been the marketing director of LVMH in India. The investigation into Bhatia’s conduct and his leave of absence coincide with Sotheby’s first-ever sale in Mumbai, which took place earlier today. In a statement quoted by The Art Newspaper, the auction house said that “harassment of any type has no place at Sotheby’s and we will thoroughly investigate these allegations with Gaurav’s full cooperation.”
The Scene and Herd Instagram account has become an important venue for people to anonymously share stories of sexual misconduct, implicating artists, curators, and other powerful figures in the Indian art world. Last month, the artist Riyas Komu stepped down from all his positions at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which he co-founded, after allegations were posted on Scene and Herd.