Did Derrick May resign from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, or was he pushed? Office politics and rumours of a scandal that went unreported… until now

It’s been a difficult year or so for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit. Back in July last year, they sacked executive director Elysia Bowery-Reeder after allegations emerged about the workplace being “toxic”. I understand that no less than 70 different people complained, making Bowery-Reeder’s position untenable.

And two months later, Derrick May resigned from the board. He quit following the publication of articles in Resident Advisor and others detailing allegations of sexual abuse against him. Quite the strange course of action from a man who says he didn’t do anything wrong…

No statement was issued at the time to explain that he’d left, no good wishes from MOCAD for the future – nothing. Emails from me asking what happened have gone unanswered. So I started doing some digging of my own, and this is what I discovered.

I have it on good authority from three different sources, including one who actually works for MOCAD, that Derrick May failed to pay his dues whilst on the board. He wasn’t sacked from the board, nor did he resign. His membership effectively expired, just like a Netflix subscription if you failed to pay.

I’ve since learnt from two different sources that May and Bowery-Reeder got on extremely well. One account said May taught her “all there was to know” about the city of Detroit and was fascinated to learn about her Ferndale upbringing. Another person says “he showed her the hood. It really shattered her bubble when she learnt about some of the issues in Detroit”.

Neither Bowery-Reeder nor her solicitor replied to my emails ahead of publication.