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Kehinde Wiley, Obama’s Portrait Artist, Fights Back Against Sexual Assault Allegations (Photos)

June 13, 2024

 

 

 

Kehinde Wiley, the acclaimed artist renowned for painting Barack Obama’s official portrait, is vigorously defending himself against a series of sexual assault and abuse allegations from multiple men. The New York City-based artist, whose works are highly sought after by celebrities like Elton John, Spike Lee, Alicia Keys, and Venus Williams, finds himself at the center of a growing controversy.

Ghanaian artist Joseph Awuah-Darko first accused Wiley in an Instagram post, alleging that Wiley assaulted him twice in 2021. In response, Wiley posted purported records of Awuah-Darko’s messages expressing admiration for him and his work since the alleged incidents. Wiley noted, “He has mentioned me on his Instagram stories more than 30 times. Before he made these unhinged false claims and deleted thousands of Instagram posts that didn’t fit his narrative, he celebrated our friendship on his feed.”

 

Awuah-Darko has not responded to Wiley’s rebuttal.

Derrick Ingram, an activist and the executive director of the non-profit Warriors in the Garden, also came forward with accusations. Ingram claimed that on September 10, 2021, Wiley raped and sexually assaulted him at his New York apartment. Ingram detailed their relationship, which spanned four months, citing instances of extreme violence and emotional manipulation.

Wiley has denied all allegations, labeling the claims a “reckless smear campaign.” He accused Awuah-Darko of conspiring with Ingram, “a person I had a brief consensual encounter with in 2021; this person had also hoped for a more significant relationship.” Wiley shared alleged texts from Ingram, expressing positive sentiments towards him, to support his defense.

A source close to Wiley told *Page Six*, “Kehinde is fed up and he is not going to be a punching bag for these spurious allegations.”

Two more individuals have stepped forward with allegations. UK-based author and curator Nathaniel Lloyd Richards accused Wiley of “inappropriate touching and groping during a date in 2019,” according to a statement shared with the online arts magazine *Hyperallergic*. Wiley’s attorney, Jennifer Barrett, responded, “Mr. Wiley denies any inappropriate conduct towards Nathaniel Lloyd Richards.”

Additionally, Terrell Armistead claimed Wiley raped him in the winter of 2010. Both Awuah-Darko and Ingram amplified Armistead’s story by reposting it on their Instagram accounts. Wiley denies this claim as well, with his attorney asserting that Wiley does not know Armistead and that the described events never occurred.

Barrett accused Awuah-Darko of orchestrating a campaign to defame Wiley, alleging that Awuah-Darko has been harassing Wiley’s friends and colleagues to support his vendetta. She stated, “Mr. Wiley will not allow that to happen. He intends to pursue every avenue available to him, legal and otherwise, to defend his reputation.”

 

 

The legal battle appears imminent as ARTnews reported that Ingram and Awuah-Darko plan to sue Wiley. Barrett dismissed the claims, stating, “Posting something to Instagram doesn’t make it true… Yet, in today’s world, anyone can spread blatant lies with a single post, and the public accepts it at face value.”

Wiley’s social media posts echo his intent to fight these allegations vigorously, stating, “These claims are deeply hurtful to me, and I will pursue all legal options to bring the truth to light and clear my name.”

Wiley remains a significant figure in global Black culture, as noted by *The New Yorker*, and the unfolding legal saga is sure to be closely watched by the art world and beyond.

 

 

 

 

Credit: Page Six

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