Artist Claude Lévêque Indicted in France for Rape of Minors

Claude Lévêque, a famed French artist whose reputation was marred by the emergence of allegations that he abused children in 2021, has been indicted by a Bobigny court for the rapes of multiple teenagers.

Le Monde reported on Friday that Lévêque had been indicted on March 31 for the “rape of a 15-year-old minor,” “rape of a minor by a person having legal or de facto authority over the victim,” and “sexual assault on a minor under 15 by a person having authority.”

Although the allegations by Lévêque first emerged in 2021, the Bobigny prosecutor’s office had been investigating the claims since 2019. The sculptor Laurent Faulon had alleged that Lévêque had sexually assaulted him while he was a teenager, between the ages of 13 and 17, during the ’80s. In 2021, through a lawyer, Lévêque denied the allegations.

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At the time, Lévêque was a prominent figure in the French art world, even representing the country at the 2009 Venice Biennale. His neon sculptures had appeared in a number of prominent institutions, most notably in 2014 at the Louvre, whose I. M. Pei–designed pyramid he lit up with a strip of reddish filament.

Faulon’s allegations forced many to consider Lévêque anew. After news of the investigation emerged, Kamel Mennour dropped Lévêque from its roster, and the city of Montreuil turned off a public light installation by the artist.

The Le Monde report from this week revealed that allegations from two brothers only identified as Y.R. and N.R. had also been considered during the investigation. Y.R. reportedly said he was “masturbated” by Lévêque starting at the age of 14 and that the artist had performed fellatio on him. N.R. said that he was raped by the artist in Lévêque’s apartment beginning at age 10 or 11 in 1989 and that the alleged assaults continued until 1997. N.R. also claimed that he was inappropriately touched by Lévêque in a James Turrell installation in 1995.

Both Y.R. and N.R. said that Lévêque had not physically forced them into sexual acts. “It was forced for me, even if there was never any physical violence, his behavior and his form of manipulation made me accept that,” Y.R. reportedly said.

Lévêque said in 2021 that this was a result of the “mores of another era, where this sort of thing could happen between a ‘master’ and his ‘apprentice,’” according to Le Monde.

Per the Le Monde report, the artist now cannot leave France and is subject to a “ban on entering into any relationship whatsoever with ten of his alleged victims.”

Reached by ARTnews, Lévêque’s lawyer, Emmanuel Pierrat, declined to comment on the indictment.

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