In February of this year, a self-described "high-profile art world family" placed an ad in the online job listings of the New York Foundation for the Arts, seeking "a full-time Executive/Personal Assistant who is extremely detail-oriented, has excellent communication skills, and possesses a professional demeanor with a high level of discretion." The ad stated that the position required "the ability to seamlessly juggle multiple priorities in a dynamic, unstructured environment and possess flexibility to change course at a moment's notice. The ideal candidate must be dedicated to a simple goal: make life easier for the couple in every way possible."
The New York Times highlighted some of the requirements listed in the ad:
Among many other domestic chores, the aspiring subordinate would "serve as the central point of communication to household staff (includes chef, nannies, landscapers, dog walkers, housekeeper, contractors, and building managers)," but also be left alone with the couple's 4-year-old. Clothes would need to be picked up from "high end" stores, and one could expect to "coordinate all cleaning, repairs, and guest stays." Do you have a green thumb? You'll need one: The post requires "apartment rooftop garden maintenance."
He or she would make restaurant reservations, R.S.V.P. to events, and "create detailed travel itineraries for family to follow" for domestic or international excursions — passports to hotels to airport escorts. (Oh, and manage travel bookings for members of the artist's studio, too.)
The most frequently singled out absurdity was the phrase "Manage dog systems," which included "potty breaks, food, day care, dog walkers, vet appts," and helping the studio assistant with in-house cats.
The ad received a great deal of well-deserved ridicule for its utter lack of self-awareness and stunning sense of privilege and entitlement, and it was soon discovered the "high-profile art world family" was that of 56-year-old artist Tom Sachs. With that news, several past employees of Sachs' studio shared stories about what a nightmare it was to work with Sachs.
From another New York Times piece:
Investigations in Curbed and Artnet News later quoted several former employees of the studio without attribution who described a hostile office culture in which the artist had verbally abused people, thrown tantrums, described some workers as "autistic" and appeared in a Zoom meeting with Nike employees while in his underwear. Sachs's studio denied many of the complaints, while saying that other accounts — like an allegation that he described a basement storage space as "the rape room" — were intended as jokes.
In a March letter to employees, which Sachs's spokeswoman, Carly Holden, sent to The Times, the artist expressed regret about his comments and said that he was working to "improve" himself while formalizing human resource policies.
As a result of the negative publicity, Nike canceled its contract with Sachs. "We are not working with Tom's studio at this time and have no release dates planned," Nike told The Times.
Sachs issued his own statement, denying that he was abusive towards his employees: "Over my 30-year career I have never harassed anyone, or tried to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I am committed to building a studio culture that better aligns with the values that I have tried to perpetuate and explore as an artist."
ARTnews commented that "Sachs' statement to the Times, meanwhile, skirts any real apology and fails to address how he actually intends to overhaul the allegedly abusive studio culture given his unwillingness to admit to harassment and that its culture was central to his artistic practice and lifestyle."