While the Getty Board has so far ignored Munitz's personal and professional misdeeds, Barry Munitz may have - finally - hung himself.
It is one thing to deprive Los Angeles of a first rate art museum by using the Trust's funds to make friends throughout the world, it is one thing to lavish personal perks on himself and his buddies, and it is one thing to terrorize his staff to the point that many of them fled the Getty. But, according to the Los Angeles Times, it is quite another to hide incriminating evidence in a major criminal case from both the authorities - and the board.
And that is what Barry Munitz appears to have done:
By Jason Felch and Ralph Frammolino
Times Staff Writers
4:58 PM PDT, September 1, 2005
The J. Paul Getty Trust, which has said it was fully cooperating with Italian authorities, did not disclose a series of letters and photographs that show its chief antiquities curator maintained close relationships with dealers suspected of selling art looted from Italy, according to documents and interviews.
The Getty's antiquities curator, Marion True, is facing trial in Rome this fall on charges that she conspired to traffic in ancient artifacts stolen from Italian ruins and smuggled out of the country. Italian authorities have identified 42 objects - including some of the most prized antiquities in the Getty's collection - as stolen and have demanded their return. They are also investigating other American museums.
The Getty and True declined comment. They have in the past maintained her innocence.
According to a confidential memo written in 2001 by the Getty's criminal defense lawyer to Getty chief executive Barry Munitz, an internal review of Getty files had turned up a handful of letters from the suspect dealers as well as Polaroid photographs of artifacts.
And Getty Trust Board Chair and chief Bary Munitz apologist, John Biggs, appears to have - at least in part - been his co-conspirator:
Getty board chairman John Biggs, former chairman and chief executive of TIAA-CREF, the investment fund for education professionals, said he has seen relevant documents from the internal review."I've seen them myself and I think there's no merit to what you're trying to write a story about. It's all part of a systematic effort that the L.A. Times has undertaken to write stories about the Getty," Biggs said.
Two other Getty board members, Barbara Fleischman and Ramon Cortines, said they were unaware of the documents, and believed board members should have been briefed about what the internal review found.Fleischman said she was "flabbergasted" to learn the Getty has documents it has not provided to the Italians.
"I'm shocked," she said. "My knowledge is that full cooperation has been given to the Italians."
Cortines said, "If there were pictures and if there were damaging documents, as a board member I believe I should have seen that and been informed. There should have been a discussion about how we as a board were going to respond.
"Stonewalling is not handling an issue," added Cortines, a former superintendent of Los Angeles schools.
It is hard to imagine that this misdeed will not - finally - get the board take responsibilty for the current problems and resolve the cause of the problems by removing both Barry Munitz and John Biggs. If not, then the remainder of the board is guilty of approving of their actions.