Mumbai: Sotheby’s India managing director Gaurav Bhatia has proceeded on leave after a series of sexual harassment allegations against him on social media.

A statement by the auction house on Friday said Bhatia had taken a “leave of absence" pending a probe into the allegations. “In light of recent anonymous allegations that have surfaced on social media, Gaurav Bhatia has agreed to take a leave of absence while a formal inquiry continues."

“Harassment of any type has no place at Sotheby’s and we will thoroughly investigate these allegations with Gaurav’s full cooperation," the statement said.

According to complaints posted on Instagram, Bhatia touched the ‘victims’ inappropriately and forcibly tried to kiss them.

Bhatia, who has been with Sotheby’s since 2016, has worked with luxury brand LVMH for over a decade before joining the auction house.

The development comes at a crucial time for Sotheby’s, which is slated to conduct its maiden art auction next week. According to the company website, Bhatia heads the south Asia operation and calls him the “driving force" behind the inaugural auction in Mumbai.

The company said in a statement its employees under the leadership of Edward Gibbs, the chairman for West Asia and India, and Yamini Mehta, international head of Indian and South Asian Art, were “fully focused" on the auction.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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