Franklin’s fine performance as director of the art museum and I would ask that people respect his privacy at this time.”The police report said that Franklin described Gaston, a native of Boulder, Col., who was an accomplished musician, as a friend.
A written statement Kestner provided by email briefly before the interview stated that rumors reached the museum’s board of trustees in January that Franklin, of Shaker Heights, who is married to textile artist Antonia Reiner and has two children, had been having an affair with Gaston.
Kestner said the museum hired an outside lawyer in January to investigate the rumors, which Franklin denied. “The inquiry yielded no credible evidence to substantiate an inappropriate relationship and the inquiry was closed at that time,” Kestner wrote in his statement.
Kestner said the length of Franklin’s relationship with the museum would be determined by Interim Director Fred Bidwell of Peninsula, an art collector, museum donor and former advertising executive, who was appointed to the post on Monday in a vote taken by the full museum board following a recommendation by its executive committee.
Virginia Davidson, a lawyer representing Franklin, said, “with respect to all of this, this is about a man’s personal life and this was a tragedy and has nothing to do with Dr.
Kestner said he had seen none of the reports, but that the information showed that the affair with Gaston had occurred during and after her employment at the museum. When asked whether he was trying to keep Franklin on board at the museum during the past year in the hope that rumors about the affair would settle, Kestner said, “absolutely not, absolutely not.”Meanwhile, Franklin is continuing as a consultant to the museum“He’s not staying on for any reason other than to assist us in the transition so we know we’ve got everything we have to have for it to be smooth,” Kestner said.
Kestner also said he believed the museum would exhibit a future exhibition on the Italian Renaissance painter Caravaggio that Franklin is organizing.
“We believe that it would have been irresponsible to take action based solely on rumors.”Kestner’s written statement continued: “In early October, for the first time and based on new information, the Board confirmed that a dating relationship had existed with a former employee during and after her employment at the Museum.
Once the relationship was confirmed in early October, the Board acted expeditiously.”Kestner said in the interview that the new information included the April 29 police report, the medical examiner's report from the autopsy following Gaston’s suicide, and other information he did not specify. We just got all of this very recently.”Kestner declined in the interview to say how the information precipitated Franklin’s departure, or whether the relationship with Gaston while she was an employee was a violation of museum policy or of Franklin’s contract.
Gaston joined Chamber Fest in the fall of 2012, Cohen said Wednesday.“She did a fantastic job,” he said. We had the instinct it would be a good fit.”Cohen said Gaston’s death left him “in shock, almost as if I lost a family member. She was a wonderful person in my life.’’Prior to her work with Chamber Fest, Gaston worked at the Cleveland Museum of Art from Sept. 30, 2012, according to museum spokeswoman Caroline Guscott. Gaston also previously worked at the Akron Art Museum. A Cleveland museum web page cached on Google's search index showed the museum listed Gaston as the person to contact about membership in Column and Stripe, an affiliate philanthropic group that offers “the opportunity to enjoy behind the scenes content and insider information about what’s hot and happening in Cleveland’s art scene and beyond, as well as becoming eligible to sit on the museum’s Emerging Leaders Board.”Guscott said the museum removed the page from its own site a year ago.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The chairman of the Cleveland Museum of Art confirmed Wednesday that an extramarital affair with a museum employee, who committed suicide in April, led to David Franklin’s resignation on Monday as the institution’s director. Steven Kestner, the museum board chairman, said on Monday that Franklin resigned for “personal reasons.” On Wednesday, Kestner said that the museum became aware in early October of a Cleveland Heights police report stating that Franklin called the police just after midnight on Monday, April 29 to report the suicide by hanging of a then-former museum employee with whom he was later widely rumored to be having an affair.
The Plain Dealer obtained a copy of the police report on Wednesday.