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Johann König. Photo: Hubert Burda/Flickr.
Johann König. Photo: Hubert Burda/Flickr.

German Gallerist Johann König Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Influential German dealer Johann König is alleged by ten different women to have behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner with them, according to a bombshell report in German daily Die Zeit published this morning. König, who operates galleries bearing his name in Berlin, Vienna, London, and Seoul, is variously accused of forcible kissing, unwanted sexual comments, improper touching, and restraint, with one woman claiming he held her so tightly she “couldn’t move.”

Many of the allegations date as far back as 2017; a number of them are anonymous. Die Zeit reports that several of the accusers were reluctant to come forward sooner, fearing retaliation. König is said to have faced “at least one” complaint during this time. The paper notes that one individual earlier filed a criminal complaint against the gallerist, but that the investigation was abandoned because she had done so anonymously. Among the accusers interviewed by Die Zeit is an employee at a different gallery who complained that the dealer pressed himself against her tightly at a party and grasped her tightly, and an architect who alleged that he kissed her forcibly in a restaurant.

König denies the accusations. “These allegations are baseless and untrue,” he said in a statement. “I am already being represented by a lawyer in this matter and all legal steps are being examined to prevent the dissemination of these false facts.”

König is the son of noted curator Kasper König, the founder of Frankfurt am Main’s Portikus contemporary art space and a longtime director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne. The younger König launched his gallery in Berlin in 2002; since then, he has enjoyed the status of a figure central to that city’s scene. König Galerie represents a number of blue-chip artists, among them Monica Bonvicini, Katharina Grosse, Jeppe Hein, Helen Marten, Bosco Sodi, and Tatiana Trouvé.

Die Zeit reports that though the paper interviewed König regarding the matter, his lawyers refused to allow the publication to quote him; further, though they affirmed that König had responded to the allegations, they said that he did so only as a “precaution.”

Correction: The woman accusing König of pressing against and grasping her at a party is not a former König Galerie staffer as previously reported, but an employee at a different gallery. This article also previously noted that there is a pending complaint against König; that case is closed.