He uses his position to harass employees or artists. At parties he touched women without their consent and tried to drag one of them into a cubicle on the toilet: There were similar allegations against the gallery owner Johann König in 2019, when an anonymous letter with content of this kind was made in the course of the MeToo debate the round.
But now “Die Zeit” is following up, becoming concrete – and for the first time naming women who accuse one of the most important gallery owners in Germany of having sexually molested themselves or their friends.
The authors of the extensive story, which appeared in the weekly newspaper yesterday and has been making waves internationally since then, write that they spent three years researching it. Among them is Carolin Wuerfel, a journalist who was publicly reprimanded three years ago by her own editor-in-chief after she vehemently stood up for the anonymous accusers. You have published allegations unchecked, without knowing their authors.
So it is not surprising that Cube – well connected in the art world – continued to dig in order to finally give her plea for a debate the necessary substance It is actually hard to imagine the conditions prevailing in film or theatre. But it also seems strange that König alone is once again at the center of fierce allegations.
At first glance, anyway, because it seems unfair to accuse a single male protagonist of encroachment on behalf of the art world. In this way, the gallerist suddenly slips into the role of a representative for everyone who confuses their market power with their own attractiveness.
But Johann König is not uninvolved in this. He brushes off the allegations in “Zeit” as brusquely as the first time – although this time there are even two people affected by name, Sarah M. and Alexandra Goullier. Just like the fact that a criminal complaint was filed as a result of the letter from 2019, which, however, was again anonymous and was therefore soon discontinued. Sarah M. is an architect, Goullier works as a curator in Paris and feels free of any pressure that all those women are exposed to who are active in the gallery’s environment and therefore wish to remain unmentioned; Employees of the gallery, for example, or a former business partner of the gallery owner. The latter is quoted as saying that she felt “bitter and humiliated” by König’s clear offers.
Johann König denies everything, the trio writes that nothing from the conversation he had with the authors in his Berlin gallery St. Agnes was subsequently allowed to be quoted at the instigation of the lawyer. And this is where König’s problem lies. His behavior, the absolute refusal to deal with the allegations in the slightest, hurts him the most.
Even if some of it turned out to be unfounded or it was about reputation-damaging campaigns: to pull yourself out of the affair by simply wiping all fears and allegations off the table shows disrespect for the ten accusers known to Die Zeit by name. They are confronted with the fact that the gallery owner accuses them of making false statements and certainly does not reflect that they have behaved in a misleading or even inappropriate manner. This hurts, humiliates a second time and calls for new initiatives – after all, nobody wants to be seen as a liar.