What started as a row over tasteless art is now engulfing RedBubble co-founder Martin Hosking in a conflict-of-interest furore as well.
The CEO of the online art community site, which has been under attack for listing Hipster Hitler’s range of Third-Reich-baiting t-shirts and merchandise for sale, also happens to be chairman of software-as-a-service provider Aconex.
Aconex shareholders include shopping centre billionaire John Gandel of the Gandel Group, who is also heavily involved in Jewish community philanthropy in Australia and is a co-founder of Melbourne’s Jewish Museum, along with MYOB founder Craig Winkler and Liberal party MP Greg Hunt. Michael Robinson, formerly managing partner and co-chair of international law firm Allens Arthur Robinson, is on the board.
Sources close to Aconex have told The Register that the company’s board was under pressure from shareholders to force Hosking to distance himself from supporting the Hipster Hitler business.
In a letter to the board delivered on May 30, one shareholder raised his concerns over the association, “the relevant point here is that it damages Aconex to have its Chairman push the envelope on how pro-Hitler merchandise has to be before it becomes unacceptably offensive to sell. It seems particularly foolish of Mr Hosking to go on selling the same merchandise after Mr Leibler has described it as "pro-Hitler" and declared that ABL will cease to act for RedBubble.”
The shareholder went on to urge the board to question the future of Hosking’s role with Aconex or consider “directing him to cease selling pro-Hitler merchandise in his other business ventures and express appropriate contrition for pro-Hitler merchandise already sold.” Aconex have yet to publicly comment on the matter. Hosking has also yet to respond to our queries.
Whether in response to the public outcry or the private criticism, RedBubble has cut loose from the troublesome merchandise brand.
“Pending final outcome of our discussions with a range of organisations (including the Anti-Defamation Commission) we have decided to moderate a range of controversial work on the site related to portrayals of Hitler, the Holocaust and related events,” Hosking wrote in a blog post. ®