Head of Serpentine Galleries resigns after 'toxic attacks'

Yana Peel says she was 'bullied' as she steps down from prestigious gallery


The head of the Serpentine Galleries has resigned over “toxic attacks” and “bullying” following claims a regulated, institutional fund, managed by her husband’s investment firm, had a majority stake in an Israeli tech company that is alleged to have supplied spyware to authoritarian regimes

Yana Peel quit the London art gallery saying she had been subject to “attacks… based upon inaccurate media reports now subject to legal complaints”, adding she had faced “a concerted lobbying campaign against my husband’s recent investment”.

Reports emerged last week about the ownership structure of NSO Group, a £790m Israeli tech firm which is subject to lawsuits alleging its technology was used to target dissidents and their associates, including a friend of murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. All allegations against NSO are unproven and remain contested by the company.

In a statement, Ms Peel said: “I have decided I am better able to continue my work in supporting the arts, the advancement of human rights and freedom of expression by moving away from my current role.

“In light of a concerted lobbying campaign against my husband’s recent investment, I have taken the decision to step down as CEO of the Serpentine Galleries.

"I am saddened to find myself in this position. I have dedicated the majority of my professional life to public service in the cultural sector.

"I am proud of all that has been achieved for art and artists in my roles as co-founder of Outset, chair of Para Site Art Space and supporter of many arts institutions in London.

“The work of the Serpentine — and its incomparable artistic director [Hans Ulrich Obrist] — cannot be allowed to be undermined by misguided personal attacks on me and my family.”

She added: “A word for the wonderful community of artist and supporters, with whom I will continue to engage.

"The world of art is about free expression. But it is not about bullying and intimidation. I welcome debate and discussion about the realities of life in the digital age. There is a place for these debates, but they should be constructive, fair and factual – not based upon toxic personal attacks.”

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