Dasha Zhukova, 32, who has two children with the Chelsea owner, was accused of promoting slavery and racism after an online magazine, Buro247.ru, published a photo of her perched on the artwork yesterday — Martin Luther King Day, an American holiday commemorating the slain civil rights leader.
The picture was used to illustrate an unrelated interview about the former model’s new magazine, Garage.
The picture in question shows a scantily clad black woman wearing bondage, folded into a chair with her legs in the air and Zhukova sitting on her bottom. A “white” version of the chair, created by Norwegian artist Bjarne Melgaard, is also available, though was not used in the shoot.
Ms Zhukova said: “This photograph, which has been published completely out of context, is of an artwork intended specifically as a commentary on gender and racial politics.
“I utterly abhor racism, and would like to apologise to anyone who has been offended by this image.”
Marcia Simpson-James, head of the Carbon Philter Institute, a black human rights NGO based in London, accused Zhukova of promoting slavery.
“Those of us who have seen the image… think that the Russian police should find the fake artist who has caused international offence and arrest him or her and put them in jail for the international crime they are promoting,” Simpson-James said on an open letter to Zhukova and Abramovich, who live in London.
“I will never think of a Russian person, or the country of Russia, as decent ever again,” she said in the letter, which was emailed to The Moscow Times.
Amid accusations of racism and heavy criticism, the magazine has cropped the image so the chair is no longer visible.