Artists and König Galerie Cut Ties Amid Allegations Against Founder JohannKönig

Ten artists have dropped from König Galerie’s roster since allegations of sexual misconduct against its founder, Johann König, were reported by Die Zeit in late August.

One of those artists, Monica Bonvicini, publicly split with the gallery early this month. Bonvicini initially “paused” her representation amid the allegations. Then, less than a month later, König, which is based in Berlin, announced that her relationship with the gallery was terminated.

Since the Die Zeit article’s publication, Trey Abdella, Elmgreen & Dragset, Katharina Grosse, Friedrich Kunath, Basim Magdy, Helen Marten, Amalia Pica, Jeremy Shaw, and Corinne Wasmuht have dropped from the König roster. Outlets such as Artnet News and the Art Newspaper first reported the news of many of these departures. Those artists have not spoken out about why their representation ended or when, making it unclear whether the end of their respective relationships with König was connected to the allegations against him.

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07 November 2018, Berlin: Monica Bonvicini (M), artist from Italy, gives an interview before the opening of the exhibition "1914/1918 - Not Then, Not Now, Not Never" in the parliamentary lobby of the Reichstag building next to her artwork "Cut, Cut, not Paste", which presents chains next to a bolt cutter on a tree stump. At the end of the First World War on 11 November 1918, exactly 100 years ago, the exhibition presents works by international artists who wanted to set an example for peace. The exhibition can be seen from 10 November 2018 to 6 January 2019 as part of guided tours of the Bundestag. Photo: Arne Immanuel Bänsch/dpa (Photo by Arne Immanuel Bänsch/picture alliance via Getty Images)

König Galerie Ends Representation of Monica Bonvicini to 'Protect' Her From Online Pushback

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The initial Die Zeit report included allegations by multiple women, some of whom were not named. König fiercely denied the accusations and successfully lobbied a Hamburg court to have portions of the article altered.

This past weekend, Berliner Zeitung ran a report that alleged inconsistencies in the methods of the journalists who wrote the Die Zeit article. Many of the Berliner Zeitung piece’s allegations centered around reporter Carolin Würfel, who married the Berlin-based dealer Alfons Klosterfelde. Berliner Zeitung labeled Klosterfelde a “competitor of König” and claimed König flipped a work that he bought from him. Klosterfelde deals in prints and editions, which is different from what König sells most of the time; a Die Zeit spokesperson said it told Berliner Zeitung that Würfel and Klosterfelde are separated.

The Berliner Zeitung report also claimed that it was misleading to state that the writers approached König personally during their investigation, when Würfel allegedly did not. A Die Zeit spokesperson told Berliner Zeitung that Würfel was “involved in some, but not all, of the research interviews as a freelancer.” The other two reporters did meet with König.

Of the artists who have recently left König, Abdella, Magdy, and Shaw did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for Grosse, Kunath, Marten, and Pica declined to comment on whether the artists were still represented by König, or did not respond to emailed requests.

Representatives for Elmgreen & Dragset and Wasmuht confirmed that the artists are no longer on König’s roster, and said that the artists did not want to comment further.

Friedrich Kunath has also been removed from the roster, although a representative told Artnet that the end of his representation came before the Die Zeit report was published.

A representative for König Galerie said, “The gallery does not comment on artists leaving and never did in its 20 years’ history.”

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