Former pro-Trump artist sues National Portrait Gallery director for blocking him on Twitter

Julian Raven, a New York artist who once sued the Smithsonian because the National Portrait Gallery refused to exhibit his portrait of former President Trump, has filed a new lawsuit against its director, Kim Sajet. Raven’s complaint? Sajet, he says, blocked him on Twitter.

Raven has soured on Trump in the years since the real estate developer carved out an unlikely career in politics. He called on Trump to step down after his fans sacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and later urged the Portrait Gallery to cover a photo of Trump with a black cloth.

This ongoing pro se lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, rekindles an unusual and bitter feud with Sajet, who phoned Raven in 2016 to inform her that her 16-foot-long painting of Trump, which depicted the Republican with a hair meteor alongside an eagle and a bare globe of every continent except North America, was, in his words, “no good.”

Raven sued the Smithsonian, claiming that it had failed to submit his painting to proper review. He further zeroed in on Sajet’s Twitter account, claiming she violated the Hatch Act by tweeting about the 2017 Women’s March in DC on the gallery director’s official Twitter account, the content of which was then retro-migrated to that of Sajet. personal account.

Raven’s Hatch Act complaint failed with the United States Office of Special Advocates, as did its lawsuit in federal court. Judge Trevor McFadden, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, dismissed the suit, saying Raven had “not asserted a plausible violation of the Constitution”, despite describing the gallery’s actions to his regard as “heinous” “insults”. Raven has since published a book titled Odious and Cerberus: An American Immigrant’s Odyssey and His Free Speech Legal War Against Smithsonian Corruption.

It was in the promotion of this book that the new lawsuit emerged. According to Raven’s account, he only sent a tweet in Sajet on September 1, after which, he claims, the director blocked him. (A spokesperson for the National Portrait Gallery has yet to respond to Washingtonianrequest for comment.) This action, he says in the complaint, is analogous to a 2019 case in which a federal appeals court ruled that Trump could not block people on Twitter.

Raven’s lawsuit is asking Sajet to release him and that the court award him $902 in costs he incurred to file and serve the action. You can read it here:

Raven vs. Sajet by Washingtonian Magazine on Scribd

Julia P. Cluff