Leon Black, a trustee and the former board chair of the Museum of Modern Art, has been accused for a second time of rape, according to Reuters.
In lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court on Monday, Cheri Pierson alleges that Black “brutally” raped her 2002 in the Upper East Side home of his financial advisor, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
In the suit, Pierson claims that Epstein paid her $300 for a massage on five separate occasions before he engineered the meeting between her and Black, ostensibly also for a massage at the same rate. Pierson says she accepted the offer because she “desperately needed to help care for her young daughter” and needed the income.
Pierson says that Black, who she claims is eight inches taller and twice her weight, assaulted her in a “secluded and private area” on the third floor of Epstein’s townhouse. After the encounter, which left her in “excruciating pain” and in a state of shock, the two left the townhouse together and Black “turned his back on her and left her standing at the curb.”
According to Reuters, Susan Estrich, a lawyer for Black, called Pierson’s lawsuit “categorically false and part of a scheme to extort money from Mr. Black by threatening to destroy his reputation…. We intend to defeat these baseless claims.”
Wigdor LLP, who represents Pierson, also represents Guzel Ganieva, a former model who in a March 2021 tweet accused Black of sexually harassing and abusing her “for years.” According to court records, Ganieva claims that Black had mentioned Epstein’s “sexual proclivities” multiple times and once flew her “to Florida without her consent, to satisfy the sex needs of Epstein, his ‘best friend,’” according to Vanity Fair.
Black has admitted to having a relationship with Ganieva but denied the rape accusations. In October 2021, Black sued the former model for defamation and claimed she was trying to “destroy” him, according to a report by the Daily Mail.
In March 2021, in the thick of rumors about his connections with Epstein, Black stepped down as MoMA board chair and as chief executive and chairman of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management Inc., which he led for over 30 years.
MoMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Black’s affiliation with the museum.
Black ranks on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list, and according to Forbes has a net worth of around $9 billion. Last year, over 150 artists and activities signed a petition asking MoMA to cut ties with Black.