LONDON — Yana Peel has left her post as chief executive officer of Serpentine Galleries in London, following a report in The Guardian newspaper that she is involved in a controversial Israeli technology company, NSO Group, alongside her husband Stephen Peel.
“In light of a concerted lobbying campaign against my husband’s recent investment, I have taken the decision to step down as ceo of the Serpentine Galleries. I am saddened to find myself in this position. I have dedicated the majority of my professional life to public service in the cultural sector,” Peel said in a statement this week.
Last week The Guardian revealed that Peel and her husband co-own a stake in Novalpina Capital Group Sarl and, according to the newspaper, that company owns a majority stake in NSO Group, which has been accused of licensing and selling surveillance software.
A spokesperson for Peel rejected the allegations made against her. “Mrs. Peel is a shareholder in Novalpina Capital Group SARL, which, for clarity, does not own or have a controlling stake in NSO. Novalpina Capital Group SARL has a very small indirect and passive interest in a 1 billion euro-plus fund, of which Mrs. Peel’s husband is one of the management team.
“As such, Mrs. Peel’s interest in that fund is a small, single digit and entirely passive interest. She has no involvement whatsoever in the operations and investment decisions of Novalpina,” the spokesperson said.
Peel was with the Serpentine Galleries as a council member, campaign founder and board member before assuming her position as ceo in 2016. During her appointment, she helped promote a more inclusive attitude in the art world and enhanced Serpentine’s “free art for all” ethos and cemented partnerships with fashion and technology companies such as Google Arts & Culture, Grace Wales Bonner and Roksanda.
The board of the Serpentine Galleries said that Peel had done an “exemplary job furthering the mission, visibility and financial standing of the Serpentine.”
Peel said she will continue her work in the arts and will not bow to bullying.
“The world of art is about free expression but it is not about bullying and intimidation. I welcome debate and discussion about the realities of life in the digital age. There is a place for those debates, but they should be constructive, fair and factual, not based upon toxic personal attacks,” she said.