Blair David Hines had an extremely lonely childhood.
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1978, Hines—who goes by David—spent his teenage years almost completely isolated from other people due to a severe medical condition. But he found an escape in art, and dove in headfirst. Hines idolized the era’s contemporary artists, and Louise Bourgeois was at the top of his list.
So when Jerry Gorovoy, Bourgeois’ longtime assistant, curator, public representative, and close confidante, offered Hines the chance to move to New York City and work as the renowned French-American sculptor’s archivist, it was nothing short of a dream realized.
Until Gorovoy raped him, according to a bombshell lawsuit obtained by The Daily Beast.
The suit accuses Gorovoy, 69, of grooming and repeatedly sexually abusing Hines between December 2000 and June 2002. Hines at the time was “a 22-year-old socially-inexperienced aspiring artist,” with “minimal connections to New York City and no connection to anyone in the City’s insular art world,” the lawsuit states. When Hines rebuffed Gorovoy’s crude advances, his suit alleges the older man threatened to “destroy” him, “including by taking away his ability to financially survive in New York and the roof over [his] head, by removing [his] ability to legally remain in the United States, and by blackballing him in the New York art world.”
Eventually, Hines fled to Portugal to escape Gorovoy, who today helps run Bourgeois’ foundation and owns one of the world’s largest private collections of Bourgeois’ work. But the course of his life was “irreversibly altered” by Gorovoy’s alleged actions, which have led to, among other things, a PTSD diagnosis, suicidal ideation, shame, anxiety, flashbacks, and difficulty maintaining relationships, he says. His career suffered as well, with Hines “forced to retreat from the art world [for more than a decade] to focus on healing the deep psychological wounds he suffered,” states the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Gorovoy’s lawyer said, “The fabricated allegations in the complaint were initially made as part of a demand that Mr. Gorovoy pay the plaintiff millions of dollars to avoid the filing of a lawsuit. Following that demand, we thoroughly investigated the claims that are in the complaint and are confident that they are completely baseless and falsely sensationalized. We intend to prove that and look forward to all the facts being revealed.”
Attorney Zoe Salzman, one of the five lawyers representing Hines, countered that the complaint “makes clear” that Hines reported the allegations to others decades ago—“long before he considered a lawsuit and long before the Adult Survivors’ Act became law.”
“We are confident that the jury will find the evidence corroborates David and hold Gorovoy liable,” she told The Daily Beast.
Hines brought the suit under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, a one-year period for sexual assault victims to pursue civil claims that would have otherwise been barred by the statue of limitations. The so-called lookback window opened last November, and will close for good later this month. It’s the last remaining avenue for Hines to seek accountability for what he says happened to him, as he missed his chance to pursue criminal charges long ago.
“It is a big step to pursue a civil lawsuit against somebody, and so reporting these cases is important to show others that it can be done, and that there’s comfort in numbers, to some degree,” former federal prosecutor Elizabeth Geddes, who is also on Hines’ legal team, told The Daily Beast. “I think we all recall the day [the window] opened, and thinking, ‘Oh, we have so much time.’ And here we are with three weeks to go—but it’s still not too late.”
‘An influential force’
Gorovoy became forever intertwined with the late Bourgeois, a famed interdisciplinary artist, in the early 1980s as her renown grew following a retrospective at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. But the more famous Bourgeois became, the more reclusive she got, rarely leaving her Manhattan townhouse.
Gorovoy, for his part, “positioned himself as Ms. Bourgeois’s lifeline to the outside world and began exercising significant control over her life, including her personal life, artwork, and finances,” according to Hines’ lawsuit. In 1997, Gorovoy helped launch the influential Chelsea art gallery Cheim & Read “by orchestrating Ms. Bourgeois’s move to the new gallery, further cementing [his] place as an influential force in New York’s art scene,” the suit states.
In September 2000, Hines arrived in New York from Toronto, hoping to chart his own path as an artist. However, he struggled to get a foot in the door and three months later, was about to head back home when an acquaintance introduced him to Gorovoy, who was 47 at the time. Gorovoy had already been Bourgeois’ right-hand man for some 20 years, and Hines was thrilled when he offered to take a look at his artwork, according to the suit.
Two days later, the suit says Gorovoy showed up at Hines’ studio, “glanced at [his] paintings, told him his work was not interesting, and left.”
But a few days after that, Gorovoy apologized for being rude and not only told Hines that he liked his work, he bought a painting of his for $3,800. Still, without a visa and no steady income, Hines couldn’t stay in town.
In January 2001, once Hines had returned to Canada, Gorovoy began trying to lure him back to New York, calling him with promises of helping him get established in the city’s artistic circles, according to the lawsuit. He said he’d get Hines studio space and a job, and would introduce him to his connections, the suit states. Gorovoy “also sent Mr. Hines unsolicited expensive art books, including one personally inscribed to Mr. Hines by Ms. Bourgeois,” it claims.
Believing his luck had turned around, Hines returned to New York. Gorovoy set him up with a free apartment and art studio, as well as an off-the-books job as Bourgeois’ archivist, the lawsuit states. He introduced Hines to famous artists, let him charge his materials and expenses to Bourgeois’ account at the Modern Art Foundry in Queens, and arranged to include his work in a group show at Cheim & Read alongside Bourgeois, Andy Warhol, and others, according to the suit.
“Within a matter of months after Mr. Hines’s return to New York, and by Mr. Gorovoy’s design, nearly every aspect of Mr. Hines’s personal and professional life—from his housing, to his work, to his art materials and career prospects—was provided by, controlled by, and could be taken away by Mr. Gorovoy,” it says.
Hines opened up about his past to Gorovoy, who soon told Hines that he “had no room for friends in his life—only for a lover,” according to the suit. But Hines said he wasn’t gay, and turned Gorovoy down. So Gorovoy forced the issue, showing up at Hines’ studio to “see some of his current art,” then promptly unzipping his pants and masturbating in front of a “mortified” Hines, the suit alleges.
“Mr. Gorovoy ejaculated on Mr. Hines’s lounge chair and then left the studio,” it says.
In July 2001, Gorovoy gave Hines a $400-a-week internship at Cheim & Read, and with it, got him a temporary work visa, according to the lawsuit. This gave Gorovoy even more control over Hines’ life, and he began taking even greater liberties, the suit says.
That summer, Gorovoy invited Hines over to his loft in the Village to watch a movie, which he neglected to mention was a Japanese film depicting hardcore sex, according to the lawsuit. While they were watching, Gorovoy “unexpectedly” forced himself on Hines, “violently kissing his face” before shoving his tongue into Hines’s mouth, the suit states. Still, Hines was dependent on Gorovoy for everything he had, according to the suit.
One night at Gorovoy’s place, he ripped off Hines’ pants and “forcibly and violently penetrated” him, the suit alleges. He left Hines there “in a state of shock”—and that’s when things took a turn for the worse.
At the end of August, Hines’ lease expired and Gorovoy moved him into an apartment directly beneath his, according to the lawsuit. Now he felt “completely trapped,” the suit says.
“Mr. Gorovoy regularly reminded Mr. Hines that he had the power to take away everything from Mr. Hines if he wanted to,” it continues. “On one occasion, Mr. Gorovoy threatened to have Mr. Hines’s visa taken away. Mr. Hines knew that at any given moment and with no notice, Mr. Gorovoy could evict Mr. Hines from his apartment (leaving him homeless) and cut off the $400 weekly payments he received from Cheim & Read (leaving him penniless). And he believed that Mr. Gorovoy had the power to ensure that Mr. Hines never succeeded in the art world.”
Beginning shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 and continuing through December of that year, Gorovoy “repeatedly” raped Hines at his apartment, the lawsuit alleges. “There was never any discussion, foreplay, or romantic touching of any kind,” it adds.
It says Hines “disassociated during the rapes to escape the trauma,” and that he “felt he had been erased from the world.”
The assaults stopped for a brief period when Gorovoy’s then-partner returned to New York, according to the lawsuit, but in April 2002, as Hines prepared to fly to Belgium for a solo gallery show, Gorovoy allegedly let himself into Hines’ apartment and raped him again. After a final attack that June, during which Hines had “tears visibly streaming down his face,” Hines found his way to Portugal to “escape” Gorovoy, according to the suit.
There, Hines told a friend in intimate detail about what had happened, the suit states. Hines’ girlfriend also wrote in a letter to him that what she saw him going through was “hell,” according to the suit. Hines began seeing a psychotherapist in 2002, whom he told about being “sexually preyed on” by Gorovoy, and was diagnosed with chronic PTSD, the lawsuit says, adding that Hines “has seen psychotherapists since [then] and has consistently reported Mr. Gorovoy’s abuse to them.” All of them have determined that Hines’ issues are “a result of Mr. Gorovoy’s sexual abuse,” according to the suit.
It wasn’t until 2017, when numerous sexual assault allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein sparked the #MeToo movement, that Hines says he felt it was time to come forward.
“After privately struggling for over 16 years to survive the trauma wrought by Mr. Gorovoy’s sexual abuse and rapes, Mr. Hines sought a way to hold Mr. Gorovoy accountable for his actions,” the lawsuit states. “With the passage of the Adult Survivors Act and the lookback window of the Gender-Motivated Violence Protection Act, Mr. Hines has the opportunity to bring his rapist to face justice in court.”
He is now seeking undetermined compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees.