Tuesday, June 21, 2005

More on Barry Munitz, The Getty Scandal And The Failure Of The LA Times!

Below is a post from my comments section about how the Times will not take the steps needed to stop the looting of the Getty Trust and Museum:

I agree 100% with you. The real story is not that Munitz is who he is. The story is what he is doing that to our museum. He is a trustee; he has a fiduciary duty to us. J Paul Getty, who never saw his museum and lived half a world away, left his money to his LA museum because he always had a passion for art and he wanted people from LA to experience that art. He wanted to give people access to art, people who might not have access to Europe, where he widely traveled and lived. This nonsense of grants to foreign places, grants to universities, and a lack of emphasis on display and collection goes completely against J Paul Getty's intent.

How much money does the Met or the National Gallery give to Harvard for building conservation? How many painting from the Kroller-Muller have those two institutions conserved? For free? How many millions do they spend on funding other institution's scholars to do other institution's work? I honestly pray that the suv rolls down to the 405. It's not his money and it's not his trust. The Getty can learn a lot from the Met, a museum poorer than the Getty by several billions. The Met bought a $40 million Duccio by getting the trustees to pony up some of the money and by using some of its endowment money for the likely last painting by a great master. The Met gets a collection of impressionist paintings far superior to the entire impressionist collection of the Getty for free! How? They court Leonore Annenberg, a very rich collector, electing her to the board, making her a part of a real organization. Who is Ramon C. Cortines? What does he know about art? What art does he own?

The Getty doesn't know how to manage itself. It has been managed as though it lacked a sense of purpose. Each president succumbs to the power inherent in the throne of the castle and declares himself a dictator. The process is simple, the president nominates the board and within a couple of years the president is the board. A solution could be to expand the size of the board dramatically (from the current 12 to perhaps 24) and make some of the new seats outside the nomination of the trustee or of the board. For example, a seat could be given to the deans of the important art school in Los Angeles (UCLA, CalArts, USC, and Art Center), to museums with which the Getty does not compete and therefore has no conflict of interest (MOCA, the Hammer, and the Huntington Library), and, because the Getty is an international institution, the museum could give a rotating seat to the director of an important museum located outside America (Tate, Pompidou, or the Neue Nationalgalerie). Creating these seats would solve the Getty's two perennial board problems: lack of independence and lack of knowledge about art and museum operation.

Twice I submitted letters to the LA Times but nothing came of it. The LA Times lacks the interest to launch a crusade to end the mismanagement of the Getty, whose endowment probably surpasses the combined endowment of all other art intuitions in Los Angeles by several billions. The LA Times is simply happy reporting on the story. Whatever happened to advocating for change?

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