According to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, three sources, at least one within the Academy, claim to have witnessed Arnault groping the Crown Princess’s bottom at an event held at the Academy’s Villa Bergsgården in Stockholm.
The Swedish feminist Ebba Witt-Brattström, who was then married to Horace Engdahl the Academy's Permanent Secretary, told Expressen that she witnessed how Arnault “stroked her over her back and further down” at the event.
“Her female aide, it was really something to see, threw herself forward and pushed him away,” she added. “Horace Engdahl saw that and realised that he had gone too far that time.”
After the alleged transgression, Engdahl was reportedly instructed by the court to “undertake measures” to ensure that the Crown Princess, then still in her 20s, would never be left alone in the company of the then 60-year-old Arnault.
The story, if true, is another blow to the claims of longstanding Academy members, Engdahl in particular, that they were unaware of Arnault reputation as a serial sexual harasser.
“We can’t comment on that particular information,” Margareta Thorgren, press officer at the Swedish Royal Court told the newspaper, although she said the court supported the #metoo movement againt sexual harassment.
“The information surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault which the media has reported since the autumn is terrifying,” she added.
According to Expressen, Thorgren denied that Arnault had groped the Crown Princess when the newspaper contracted her about the same story in December.
Svenska Dagbladet has translated their sensational scoop into English, German, and French, presumably expecting it to have wide international interest.
In November, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported accusations from 18 different women that Arnault had sexually harassed or assaulted them, either at Forum, the cultural centre he helped run, or at apartments owned by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and Paris.
Arnault is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet and Academy member and is supposedly a close friend of Engdahl's.
The photographer has denied all the accusations of harassment. His lawyer on Saturday told Expressen that the new accusation was “false and erroneous” .
The accusations have thrown the Academy into turmoil, with no fewer than six Academy members stepping down as a result, four in protest at the way the crisis has been handled.
Katarina Frostenson and former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius said they would both leave their seats on April 12, after a tense meeting at which Frostenson reportedly said she would not resign unless Danius also did.
Only ten of the Academy’s 18 members are still active, and the institution is expected to decide next Thursday if it can still award the Nobel Prize this year.