The Guerrilla Girls, a group of anonymous feminist artists working to eradicate sexism and racist discrimination within the art world, has spoken out vehemently in the past about the art world’s ties to Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, of course, died in prison in 2019 after being arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors. In the same year, the Guerrilla Girls called for the Museum of Modern Art to remove board member Glenn Dubin, a billionaire hedge fund manager who’d been identified by one of Epstein’s alleged victims as one person on a list of people Ghislane Maxwell had directed her to have sex with (Dubin denies the allegations). Now, in a new statement, the Guerrilla Girls have revealed that they also canceled a 2018 book deal with Phaidon due to the publishing house’s ties to Epstein.
When the Guerrilla Girls had called for the removal of board member Glenn Dubin from the MoMA, they’d also called for the exit of Leon D. Black, the museum’s chairman. Black has made an effort to distance himself from his past dealings with Epstein, which include links affiliated with a company called Environmental Solutions Worldwide. However, just days ago, Black stepped down from his role as chief executive of his powerful private equity firm Apollo Global Management after it was revealed that he had paid Epstein $158 million over a five year period that ended in 2017. Black has also owned Phaidon Press since 2012.
“In 2018, the Guerrilla Girls contracted with Phaidon Press to publish our dream book of all our work from 1985 to today: conceptualized, designed and written by us,” the Guerrilla Girls said in a statement. “In 2019, the world learned about Black’s extensive and shady dealings with shady pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, before and after Epstein’s conviction for sex trafficking young girls. We decided we could not work with Phaidon.”
While Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly was eventually published with Chronicle Books instead, the episode just serves as another example of how artists are forced to adapt when institutional structures fail to stack up morally. “If we’re stuck with a system where our tax-exempt, educational institutions have to depend on money from the super rich, they should at least choose board members who make the world a better, not a worse place,” the Guerrilla Girls continued in their statement.