Leon Black Is Stepping Down From His Role as MoMA Chairman

Leon Black, who stepped down this month from Apollo Global Management Inc. after more than a year of intense scrutiny of his ties to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, is preparing to let go of another prestigious title as he retreats from the glare of public life.

Black, 69, has indicated he won’t stand for re-election as chairman of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, according to a person familiar with the decision. The billionaire told the board’s executive committee on Friday, according to the New York Times, which earlier reported the move.

His withdrawal comes after months of pressure brought on by Black’s relationship with Epstein -- which at the museum had artists Ai Weiwei, Nan Goldin and others calling for Black’s removal.

Leon Black Is Stepping Down From His Role as MoMA Chairman

Black’s connection to Epstein also strained relations with some investors and led to an independent review at Apollo, which documented he’d paid Epstein $158 million for personal tax advice. It found no evidence of wrongdoing by Black, but he later relinquished both the CEO and chairman roles.

“The last weeks and months have been deeply trying for me and my family,” Black wrote in a letter to the Apollo board. The scrutiny on his Epstein ties “have taken a toll on my health and have caused me to wish to take some time away from the public spotlight that comes with my daily involvement with this great public company.”

Marc Rowan has taken over as Apollo CEO while Jay Clayton, a former U.S. regulator, was named non-executive chairman.

Black, who’s worth almost $10 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, grew up in New York City and visited MoMa as a boy. He would also help his mother, a painter, assess which of her watercolors were worth framing.

Now he owns one of the world’s top art collections, including Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.”

He joined the museum’s board in 1997, seven years after co-founding Apollo. He and his wife gave $40 million for an expansion in 2018, the same year he was elected chairman. The position, twice held by David Rockefeller, carries social and civic cache and a heavy load of fundraising.

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