New York Art Giant Chuck Close Alleged to Have Lured, Harassed Women

Artist Chuck Close attends the first taping of 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' on September 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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.

Artist Chuck Close (L) and actor Leonardo DiCaprio attend the National Geographic Channel “Before the Flood” screening at United Nations Headquarters on October 20, 2016 in New York City. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for National Geographic)

Artist and CHF Board of Directors member Chuck Close, The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton and composer Philip Glass attend the Children’s Health Fund Annual Benefit at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 23, 2017 in New York City. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Children’s Health Fund)

(L-R) Lee Daniels, Chuck Close, Kathleen Turner and Norman Lear attend an event in NYC to celebrate People For the American Way Foundation (PFAW) founder and national treasure, legendary TV producer Norman Lear, in honor of his 95th Birthday on October 5, 2017 in New York City. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for People For The American Way)

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.


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