A New York artist who painted an official portrait of former President Barack Obama denies sexual assault accusations made by an artist from Ghana.

Obama’s portrait was unveiled by Obama (right) and the artist, Kehinde Wiley (left) at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, on February 12, 2018.

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Ghanaian Artist Joseph Nana Kwame Awuah-Darko accused Wiley of assaulting him, but Wiley denies the allegations.

Wiley claims the two men had “a brief, consensual relationship” three years ago.

Wiley wrote on Instagram:

“Someone I had a brief, consensual relationship with three years ago is now making a false accusation about our time together. These claims are not true and are an affront to all victims of sexual abuse. I have no idea why he has decided to target me in the way – particularly when there is a litany of evidence showing his claims are false – but I hope he gets the help he needs for whatever he is going through.”

He concluded: “I Kindly ask for privacy as I work to clear my name.”

Awuah-Darko made the allegations in posts on Instagram.

“On 9th June 2021 – I was sexually assaulted by @kehindewiley. It almost destroyed me,” he wrote.

Awuah-Darko said the first incident happened at an event in 2021.


“In the first assault, I was inappropriately groped by Kehinde Wiley who proceeded to grab my buttocks with his hands before then saying something along the lines of ‘what is this thing.’ This happened in front of another dinner guest, while I was politely ushering them both up flights of stairs.”

He said the 2nd assault by Wiley was “much more severe and violent.”

Awuah-Darko did not file charges against Wiley because he was intimidated by Wiley’s status as a gay man and because of prevalent anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiment in Ghana.

Awuah-Darko has been in contact with at least 3 other individuals who allege they were also sexually assaulted by Kehinde. Awuah-Darkos plans to take legal action against Wiley.