Top Art Collector Leon Black to Depart Investment Firm After Review of Jeffrey Epstein Donations

Top Art Collector Leon Black to Depart Investment Firm After Review of Jeffrey Epstein Donations

Amid controversy over his alleged ties to the late Jeffrey Epstein, Leon Black, a private equity investor well known in the art world for his collecting and patronage of museums, will depart the firm that he cofounded. The Wall Street Journal reports that Black, who currently serves as the chair of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, plans to leave Apollo Global Management Inc. as its chief executive on or before July 31, the 70th birthday of the firm’s cofounder Marc Rowan. He will reportedly donate $200 million to women’s initiatives.

The independent review, conducted by the firm Dechert LLP, found that Black had not been involved in criminal activities conducted by Epstein, who was arrested on sex trafficking charges involving underage girls. But the review found that Black had donated more to Epstein that had previously been estimated. Previously, as part of a 2020 investigation, the New York Times reported that Black had given at least $50 million to Epstein. The review put that number at around $148 million, not counting a $10 million donation to Epstein’s charity.

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Black has been one of the biggest art world figures to have been ensnared in the Epstein proceedings. In August, the Times reported that Black was going to be subpoenaed in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And in October, as part of a Times investigation, it was revealed that Black had used his art-collecting company to pay millions of dollars to Epstein.

“There is no question that Epstein performed substantive work for Black and that Black genuinely believed that Epstein was extremely smart, capable, and saved him substantial amounts of money,” the report by Dechert said.

Within the art world, Black is known for his collecting and his philanthropy. Since 2018, Black has been chairman of MoMA’s board. That year, he also gave $40 million to the museum’s expansion project. ARTnews has reached out to MoMA for comment.

Additionally, since 1997, Black and his wife Debra have ranked on the ARTnews Top 200 Collectors list. And in 2012, Black bought Phaidon, a prominent art book publisher.

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