Leon Black is stepping down as chair of the Museum of Modern Art in the wake of artist protests over his ties to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, The Post has learned.
The billionaire co-founder of private equity giant Apollo Global Management announced his decision at a virtual board meeting on Friday, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
At the meeting, Black told his fellow trustees he would give up the chairman role when his current three-year term ends on June 30, sources said. The billionaire financier plans to remain on the board, however, as one of MoMA’s 57 trustees, these sources said.
MoMA’s Executive Committee, which consists of a smaller subset of board members, will meet on the matter on March 30 and then bring the discussion to the rest of the board for a possible vote later that day, a source close to the situation said.
The Post exclusively reported on March 14 that MoMA had moved its regularly scheduled board meeting twice since February as a select group of MoMA trustees talked with Black about his future as the head of the storied museum and whether he should step down. Details of Friday’s meeting were first reported by the New York Times.
MoMA has come under pressure to part ways with Black after it emerged in January that he paid $158 million for tax and estate planning advice to Epstein following a 2008 guilty plea for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.
Prominent artists like Ai Weiwei and photographer Nan Goldin have called on Epstein to step down. The museum was also facing a 10-week “strike” against it, which would have taken the form of protests and other public demonstrations starting April 9.
Black has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But he agreed to step down as Apollo CEO in January in the wake of criticisms over his eye-popping payments to the convicted sex offender.
Then earlier this week, he surprised watchers when he said he would be giving up the Apollo chairman’s role that he had vowed to keep in January, while also announcing plans to step down as CEO effective immediately, citing health concerns. He had initially said he would give up the CEO reins at Apollo on July 31.
Black will have served just one term as MoMa’s chief compared to 11 years at the helm by his predecessor, real estate mogul Jerry Speyer.
The board could still face questions, however, about keeping Black on as a director, as well as its continued ties to fellow Glenn Dubin, a fellow MoMA trustee who, together with his wife Eva, had a personal relationship with Epstein before and after his 2008 conviction.
“I think this is a serious cop out,” one source close to the board said. “It allows Dubin to stay on” as a MoMA director.
Black and Dubin declined comment. A MoMA spokeswoman did not return calls.
Epstein committed suicide in prison a month after he was arrested a second time in 2019 and charged with running a sex trafficking operation involving dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14.