Kehinde Wiley Denies New Allegations of Sexual Assault from Activist Derrick Ingram


For a second time, Kehinde Wiley denied allegations of sexual assault after new claims emerged Monday morning.


On Instagram, activist Derrick Ingram accused Wiley, a painter most widely known for doing Barack Obama’s official portrait, of having raped him in 2021. Ingram alleged that the assault happened in Wiley’s SoHo apartment.


“Posting something to Instagram doesn’t make it true,” Jennifer Barrett, an attorney for Wiley, said in a statement to ARTnews. “Yet, in today’s world, anyone can spread blatant lies with a single post, and the public accepts it at face value.” She said there was “no evidence” for Ingram’s claims.


Ingram, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist and the executive director of social justice non-profit Warriors in the Garden, said he was in a three-month-long relationship with Wiley, whom he accused of “extreme violence” and “severe emotional manipulation” during their time together. According to the timeline laid out by Ingram, the alleged rape happened during their relationship. He said he planned to sue Wiley in New York.


Barrett said that Ingram and Wiley had had a “one-time consensual encounter.” Ingram did not respond to a request for additional comment.


In the text posted as an image to his Instagram, Ingram explicitly named Wiley. In an accompanying caption that did not name Wiley, he wrote that he had been assaulted by “a predator that met me at my most vulnerable and knew that I was just starting to heal. He actively exploited my pain and today I am taking back my power.”


Ingram linked in his bio to a petition launched by Joseph Awuah-Darko, who accused Wiley of sexual assault last month. Like Ingram, Awuah-Darko claimed he had been assaulted in 2021. Also like Ingram, Awuah-Darko said he planned to take legal action against Wiley.


Barrett, Wiley’s attorney, alluded to Awuah-Darko’s allegations, which she said were untrue.


“The false claims against Mr. Wiley began as a vendetta by an individual who shared a single consensual encounter with him,” she said. “This person pursued Mr. Wiley for over a year, unsuccessfully pushing for a relationship. Recently, this individual has reinvented himself, soliciting cash contributions from followers and encouraging others to join his fraudulent Instagram campaign. His efforts have produced one other person, who also had a one-time consensual encounter with Mr. Wiley years ago and subsequently spent months sending him romantic texts seeking a deeper relationship.”


Wiley previously denied Awuah-Darko’s claims, saying, “Someone I had a brief, consensual relationship with is now making false, disturbing, and defamatory accusations about our time together. 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 is renowned for his paintings of Black sitters that reference Old Masters portraiture techniques. A 2022 New Yorker profile labeled him “one of the most influential figures in global Black culture,” and said that with his Black Rock Senegal artist residency program, he was “shifting the art world’s center of gravity toward Africa.”


A Wiley survey held the following year at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco was a hit, drawing massive crowds. It has since traveled, appearing recently at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, with future stops planned at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Minneapolis Institute of Art in the coming year, according to Wiley’s website. Spokespersons for the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Minneapolis Institute of Art did not respond to requests for comment.

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