April 21, 2008— -- Click here to read an update on this story.
The CEO of a company that runs a controversial exhibit of "plasticized" Chinese bodies, Premier Exhibitions, has resigned, according to an SEC filing by the company.
Arnie Geller submitted his resignation in March, weeks after a "20/20" report on the company's practices triggered an inquiry by the New York attorney general's office. The company, which never announced the change in management in a press release according to a review of its Web site, said Geller's resignation was not connected to the questions raised about the human bodies or to Geller's appearance on "20/20."
The company's general counsel, Brian Wainger, said Geller stepped down because "he decided it was time to retire." Wainger said Geller "is not involved with the day-to-day business of the company" but will continue as chairman of the board of directors.
The "20/20" report disputed the company's and Geller's account that all of the bodies came from a medical school in Dalian, China. School officials told "20/20" it was "not true" that the school provides bodies for display in the United States. Instead, the report found the bodies were provided by a private company run by a professor from the medical university which initially supplied the bodies but recently pulled out because of bad publicity.
The "20/20" report discovered a "thriving black market" in Chinese bodies, and a self-admitted dealer in the bodies black market described "body runs" to a location where bodies, including those of executed prisoners, were sold for $200 to $300.
Geller denied Premier knowingly used the bodies of executed prisoners.
Wainger said Premier would soon announce changes in the way the company runs the exhibitions.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo would not comment on the ongoing investigation.