Former MIT professor Neri Oxman has not been active in the art world for a few years, but is back in the news after her billionaire husband Bill Ackman’s campaign against Harvard prompted news investigations alleging several instances of plagiarism in her PhD dissertation and other published academic writings.

Oxman is a American-Israeli designer and architect whose interdisciplinary work has been shown in exhibitions at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in 2020 and SFMoMA in 2022. She completed her PhD at MIT’s architecture department in 2010 and became a tenured professor at the university’s Media Lab in 2017. She left in 2020 to start her eponymous design firm OXMAN.

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Oxman’s art and design work has been the subject of features and profiles in W Magazine, Vogue, Interview, and Elle, as recently as 2020.

A significant reason why Oxman and her PhD dissertation are currently in the news is due to Ackman, the founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital, whom she married in 2019. Since last October, Ackman, a Harvard alumnus and major donor to the university, has led a very loud campaign on the social media platform X against the university’s president Claudine Gay for how she has handled antisemitism and pro-Palestinian protests on campus, as well as repeatedly alleging her of plagiarism. After more than 100 tweets from Ackman about Gay and Harvard, Gay resigned on January 2.

On January 4, Business Insider published a report highlighting instances where it alleged that Oxman plagiarized from sources in her PhD dissertation. The following day, BI published a report analyzing how Oxman’s alleged plagiarism compared to Gay’s, as well as a new report detailing 28 additional examples of supposed plagiarism. The examples of plagiarism cited include the lifting of several Wikipedia entries for terms such as weaving, computer graphics, sustainable design, and computer-aided design.

Last week, Oxman released a statment on X responding to the report, acknowledging four paragraphs in her dissertation that lacked quotation marks, but said that the sources were cited properly otherwise.

“You are not even sure whether or not this is plagiarism,” Ackman tweeted on January 5. “You honestly don’t know as you have never seen Wikipedia cited as a source.”

As a result of news reports on Oxman’s alleged plagiarism, Ackman has vowed to check the work of all MIT faculty members, its president, other senior executives, as well as its board members for plagiarism.

On Sunday, Business Insider’s German parent company, Axel Springer, issued a statement saying it was “going to take a few days” to “review the processes” around those reports, even though “the facts of the reports have not been disputed.”

According to Semafor, some of Axel Springer’s corporate leaders are concerned that BI‘s reporting could be construed as antisemitic and anti-Zionist due to Oxman being born and raised in Israel.

This is not the first time Oxman has been the subject of major news headlines.

Her connections to Jeffrey Epstein were reported by the Boston Globe in 2019. In 2015, Oxman was among several MIT faculty invited to meet with the now-deceased sex offender in the office of the Media Lab’s then-director Joi Ito. Ito resigned in scandal in September 2019 after a New Yorker investigation by Ronan Farrow alleged extensive contacts and a deep financial relationship between Ito, the Media Lab, and Epstein.

At the MIT meeting with Epstein, Oxman reportedly showed him small-scale models of her sculptures. Two years later, Oxman presented Epstein with a “grapefruit-sized” 3D-printed marble after Epstein gave approximately $125,000 to her design lab Mediated Matter.

According to a statement provided by Oxman to ARTnews in 2019, Ito had vouched for Epstein as a donor, resulting in the gift of the 3D-printed sculpture.

“I regret having received funds from Epstein,” her statement concluded, “and deeply apologize to my students for their inadvertent involvement in this mess.”