Climate change protesters from activist groups including Climate Organizing Hub, New York Communities for Change, and Reclaim Our Tomorrow on June 6 rallied outside New York’s Museum of Modern Art, calling for the institution to drop board chair Marie-Josée Kravis. Kravis’s husband, Henry Kravis, is a cofounder and co–executive chairman of KKR, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms and a significant stakeholder in Canada’s Coastal GasLink Pipeline. Having timed their action to coincide with the museum’s annual Party in the Garden, MoMA’s largest fundraiser, the activists carried signs and banners, and set up a miniature oil rig outside the museum’s doors. Their efforts were lent poignancy by the dystopian pink glow of the setting sun, reddened by the smoke cascading southward from the massive wildfires burning in central Canada. At the time of the protest,ninety-eight million peopleon the East Coast were under air quality alerts owing to the smoke, and New York was experiencing thesecond-worst air qualityin the world, after New Delhi.RelatedHELEN FRANKENTHALER FOUNDATION SUED FOR “DESTROYING” PAINTER’S LEGACYBMA CREATES PAID INTERNSHIPS HONORING VALERIE MAYNARD The Kravises have long been major benefactors of MoMA, which in 2019 opened alive events studionamed for the couple. The rallying activists passed out flyers bearing QR codes that brought those scanning them to anopen lettercalling for the museum to cut ties with Henry Kravis, whom they cast as a “climate criminal.” “MoMA can’t claim to be a sustainable organization that wants to fight climate change but at the same time have a fossil fuel investor as the chair of the board, with their names on the walls,” Jonathan Westin, an activist with the Climate Organizing Hub, toldArtnews.
“This is directly inspired by what Nan Goldin and other activists did to get to get rid of the Sackler name at the Met.” Goldin and her cohort drew attention to the philanthropic “artwashing” efforts by members of the Sackler family, owners of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, via which they supplied major arts institutions with tremendous amounts of money in exchange for naming rights pertaining to galleries and other public spaces. After years of sustained pressure from activists and amid the collapse of Purdue under the weight of thousands of lawsuits from victims of opioid abuse, museums around the world removed the Sackler name, stopped accepting donations, or otherwise distanced themselves from the family. Kravis is not the first board chair to be targeted by activists. Leon Black stepped down from that position in 2021 after Asset Management, the private equity firm of which he was CEO, drew scrutiny in the art world, withdemonstratorsoccupying MoMA PS1 on the final day of the exhibition “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011,” owing to Apollo’s investment in Constellis Holdings. Formerly known as Blackwater, the defense contractor had rebranded following the 2007 Nisour Square massacre, in which seventeen unarmed Iraqi civilians were shot by the company’s employees in Baghdad. The allegations, combined with Black’s connections with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, played a role in his departure as board chair. Kravis, a board member since 1994,succeededhim and has held the position since..