Ocula Magazine   |   News   |   Crime

The former knight, who donated tens of millions of dollars across New Zealand's arts sector, was convicted of three indecent assaults in 2021.

‘Super Predator’ Arts Patron James Wallace Given Parole Date

Pah Homestead in Monte Cecilia Park, Hillsborough, Auckland, New Zealand in 2009. Photo: public domain.

James Hay Wallace, a prominent supporter of the arts in Aotearoa New Zealand prior to his convictions for indecent assault, has been granted parole.

Wallace is due to be released from prison on 11 December, his lawyer David Jones KC told Stuff.

Wallace has repeatedly denied his guilt, and claims he does not pose a danger to the public.

At a parole hearing in September, he said, 'I am almost 86. I am really not capable of being a risk to anyone in any sexual sense and otherwise. I'm always more helpful than I am a risk to society generally.'

Wallace was convicted of indecently assaulting three men in the early 2000s, 2008, and 2016, and two charges of attempting to dissuade one complainant from pursuing his complaint.

In May 2021, he was sentenced to two years and four months in prison. According to the Supreme Court's judgement, his sentence 'was reduced by approximately 45 per cent to take account of the applicant's age, contribution to society, and health needs.'

Wallace's name suppression was revoked on the morning of his first trial in 2019 but a series of appeals meant he could only be publicly named from 28 June this year.

Taking over his father's meat rendering business, Wallace amassed a fortune worth about NZ $165 million, according to NBR's 2018 rich list. He began buying art in the 1960s and built a considerable collection that he transferred to the James Wallace Arts Trust, which he established in 1992.

The Trust awarded over $10 million to artists over the following two decades. The collection moved to the Pah Homestead in 2010, where it was renamed the Arts House Trust in mid-2021.

Wallace was a patron of the Auckland Theatre Company, NZ Opera, Royal New Zealand Ballet, and the Auckland Philharmonia. He is a named producer on multiple films, including Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016).

Wallace was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2001 for services to the arts. He was promoted to Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2011. King Charles III stripped Wallace of his knighthood in August following a request from the New Zealand Government in June.

On social media, Dudley Benson, one of the survivors of Wallace's assaults, described him as a 'super-predator'. Benson and several others spoken to by 1News described the criminal investigation into Wallace as the 'worst-kept secret'.

James Wenley, a lecturer and theatre producer at Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka, said Wallace's 'inappropriate and creepy behaviours' towards young men were 'well known' before police were ever involved.

Prior to sentencing, Stuff reported that Wallace appeared to put his name to an email sent to 167 people and groups asking for letters of support. The court released a list of 89 people who provided these letters, including high-profile artists, directors, actors, and patrons, including at least 12 members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Auckland's Basement Theatre was one of the many arts organisations that received funding from Wallace.

Under new leadership since 2021, they told 1News, 'If there were arts organisations that knew about Wallace's offending, but stayed silent and continued to take his money, this is not acceptable.'

'Our sector leaders must continue to advocate for the arts to be appropriately funded by the government, so that the pressure to accept "unclean money" is eradicated,' they said. —[O]

Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Ocula Newsletter
Stay informed.
Receive our bi-weekly digest on the best of
contemporary art around the world.
Your personal data is held in accordance with our privacy policy.
Ocula discover the best in contemporary art icon.
Get Access
Join Ocula to request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Do you have an Ocula account? Login
What best describes your interest in art?

Subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming exhibitions, available works, events and more.
By clicking Sign Up or Continue with Facebook or Google, you agree to Ocula's Terms & Conditions. Your personal data is held in accordance with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you for joining us. Just one more thing...
Soon you will receive an email asking you to complete registration. If you do not receive it then you can check and edit the email address you entered.
Thank you for joining us.
You can now request price and availability of artworks, exhibition price lists and build a collection of favourite artists, galleries and artworks.
Welcome back to Ocula
Enter your email address and password below to login.
Reset Password
Enter your email address to receive a password reset link.
Reset Link Sent
We have sent you an email containing a link to reset your password. Simply click the link and enter your new password to complete this process.