child sex mannequin balenciaga
Content Warning: This article contains graphic details related to disturbing sexual representations of children. Reader discretion is appreciated.

Balenciaga is once again facing backlash after the head of its parent company was revealed to be the owner of an auction house that facilitated the sale of disturbing child sex mannequins.

On December 3, British broadcaster Dominique Samuels called attention to what appears to be the next layer in the Balenciaga "pedo-chic" scandal that caused a viral outcry last month.

In her seven-post thread, Samuels points out that François-Henri Pinault, the French multi-billionaire at the helm of Balenciaga's parent company, Kering, also owns an auction house which oversaw the sale of extremely graphic child "sex mutants."

Christie's, a high-end art auctioneer, is owned and managed by Pinault's Groupe Artémis, which was founded by his father to be an investment vehicle for the Pinault fortune. It features dozens of pieces from Jake and Dinos Chapman, most of which have already been sold but remain on display on the Christie's website.

The Chapman brothers are well-known for their artwork, which is often portrayed as intentionally provocative. In the mid-to-late '90s, the artists created a number of mannequins intended to represent children with horrific sexual mutations in a collection titled Fuck Face. Some of the pieces in the "pedophilic grotesque" line have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Samuels' Twitter thread features a number of screenshots from the existing auction house profiles on the works.

One mannequin, which bares the same name as the collection, is a small toddler shown as having an open anus for a mouth and an erect penis for a nose.

Christie's, which sold the piece for over $141,000 USD in 2010, describes the work as revealing "uncomfortable truths" in the essay accompanying the lot.

"Both the title of Fuck Face and the appendage that dominates the features are jarringly at odds with the air of childish innocence and inquiry of this stumbling toddler, adding to the shock factor and sense of the uncanny with which it is drenched."

Other works in the Fuck Face collection include children's bodies with gaping anuses in place of their heads, little girls fused together at the vagina, and toddler conjoined twins with open vaginas or protruding penises between their faces.
child sexual exploitation art

[L] “Platinum Joey” (1996) and [R] “Disasters of yoGA” (1997)
Balenciaga parent company head François-Henri Pinault is confirmed to own some artwork created by the Chapman brothers, but none of the pieces from the Fuck Face collection are featured in his collection galleries.

Samuels' thread on the connection between Balenciaga's parent company and the auction house selling the disturbing works has attracted considerable attention from horrified netizens.

"This is so upsettingly unbelievable. It makes me feel naive to what is actually happening in the world," one user tweeted in response to Samuels.

"The evil in this world is just sickening to my stomach. They get away with it because of money and power the silence in the media and celebrities about this #BalenciagaPedos is disgusting. We should not let it rest. They're hoping it will blow over," Sophie Karakaya wrote.

Others speculated on what the reaction from Pinault or his company would be, referencing the recent tepid direction taken by Balenciaga.

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga became the subject of widespread outrage in November after launching a holiday gift shop ad campaign featuring very young children posing with teddy bears accessorized in BDSM gear.

The incident became even more complex following an additional disturbing discovery in another photoshoot published on the official website to advertise the brand's Adidas collaboration.

In the photo, which did not include the child models, one of the Adidas handbags was seen laying on a desk littered with paperwork. Among the papers was a document pulled from the Supreme Court case United States v. Williams.

The case involved a man named Michael Williams who, in April 2004, used a public internet chat forum to post a message offering to exchange child sexual abuse materials with other users in the group. The message read: "Dad of toddler has 'good' pics of her an [sic] me for swap of your toddler pics, or live cam."

Secret Service agent Timothy Devine responded to Williams' offer in a private discussion where the two proceeded to share non-sexual photos of children. Following this, Williams claimed to have nude images of his four-year-old daughter being sexually abused, and promised to produce them if Devine would reciprocate.

When Devine did not send on pornographic content of minors, Williams provided a link in the public chat that led to seven files containing sexually explicit images of children ages five to fifteen. Agent Devine was then able to procure a search warrant for Williams' home, where, according to court records, agents seized two hard drives containing "at least 22 images of real children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, some of it sadomasochistic."

Williams was charged with one count of "pandering", or promoting, child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography. Williams pleaded guilty to both charges but reserved his right to challenge the conviction in a court of appeals. The District Court of Florida sentenced Williams to 60 months in prison.

Williams then filed a motion to dismiss the pandering charge on the basis that the legal statue was overly broad and infringed on his First Amendment free speech rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed with Williams, thereby sending the final decision to the Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled that freedom of speech protections did not extend to offers to proliferate child sexual abuse materials.

Following international backlash, Balenciaga scrubbed both campaigns from its website and social media profiles, and issued a hasty Instagram statement apologizing for the "offense" caused by the photoshoots. Shortly after, the company announced it was going to sue the production company responsible for designing the set used to advertise the Adidas handbag.

But just yesterday, the luxury brand stated it was scrapping its plans for litigation, leading some, like Dominique Samuels, to speculate the move had been purely "performative."

The brand's creative design director, Demna Gvasalia, has also issued an apology for his role in the photoshoot featuring the children.