Two women told HuffPo that Chuck Close, a giant in the New York art world, lured them to his studio under false pretenses to see them naked and harass them. One called him a “f**king pervert.” Another claims he reached for her vagina.
Close, who HuffPo describes as one the richest artists alive, has his work showcased in some 75 international museums and rubs elbows with the powerful in celebrity and politics. “His official presidential portrait of Bill Clinton hangs in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. (Clinton awarded Close a National Medal of Arts in 2000.)” The story also includes a 2017 photograph of Close and Hillary Clinton.
Julia Fox alleges that in 2013, Close asked her to model for him. HuffPo claims to have seen the emails between the two and says there was no mention of her doing nude modeling. Although Close has painted nudes, he is known primarily for close-ups of people’s faces.
Once she arrived at his studio, she said she was surprised to discover that it was just the two of them there. This is when Close asked her to undress. Still flattered that such a giant in the art world would be interested in her, she agreed.
“I was under the impression that he took portraits, so I just assumed that’s what we would do,” she told HuffPo. “So it caught me off guard when he insisted I take my clothes off … I just said yes to be polite. In retrospect that is really all it was.”
But in what HuffPo describes as a violation of protocol involving nude models, Close had no place for Fox to change, so she was forced to undress in front of the artist.
After she was naked, she says Close moved himself (he has been wheelchair-bound since 1988) a few inches from her vagina and said, “Hmmm. Your pussy looks delicious.”
At this point, she stormed out and refused his $200.
HuffPo talked to several of Fox’s associates who confirmed she told them the story at the time.
Close’s second accuser, who wishes to remain anonymous, tells pretty much the same story. In 2007, she received a call from Close’s assistant for a $200 modeling opportunity. Under the impression the assistant would be there, she traveled four hours, only to find herself alone with Close. Believing she was there to model for a portrait, she was also surprised to be asked to undress — which she did.
Close then asked her to pose in a position that made it possible for him to reach between her legs. “I noticed him staring at my crotch,” she said. “I was kind of paralyzed.” She alleges he then leaned in, reached for her vagina, and asked if he could touch it. Furious, she got up and left.
Close’s lawyer responded to the allegations, not by denying them but by dismissing them:
[T]he bottom line of all the allegations is that no sexual act ever occurred – in fact, Mr. Close never even touched any of your witnesses. The most that can be said about the allegations against Mr. Close is that he uttered some words (some of which were sexually frank) which are alleged to have offended the sensibilities of these adult individuals… This does not come close to reaching the level, and would only serve to cheapen the coin, of the terrible misconduct that rightly has been condemned of late.