First Munitz's - reportedly much resented by the staff - private secretary - long thought to be the heavy-handed second in command at the Getty, resigned - and now Munitz, I mean the Getty (I keep forgetting that the two are not supposed to be the same thing) has had to accept the 'retirement' of his/their long time curator of antiquities, Marion True, just prior to her going on trial for purchasing looted art objects on behalf of the Getty.
Ralph Frammolino and Jason Felch Times Staff Writers October 3, 2005
The curator of antiquities for the J. Paul Getty Museum bought a vacation home in the Greek islands after one of the museum's main suppliers of ancient art introduced her to a lawyer who arranged a nearly $400,000 loan.
The Getty said in a statement Saturday evening that the curator, Marion True, had resigned after museum officials confronted her about the loan, which she obtained in 1995.The statement, released in response to questions from The Times, said the loan breached museum policy, which requires employees to report even the appearance of a conflict of interest."
The Getty has determined through its own investigation that Marion True failed to report certain aspects of her Greek house purchase transaction in violation of Getty policy," the statement said. "In the course of the Getty's discussions with Ms. True on this matter, she chose voluntarily to retire."
OK - but what's the REAL story? Well -
Internal Getty records obtained by The Times show that museum officials knew three years ago about the loan True obtained for the vacation home. The Getty declined comment on the documents. Italian authorities say Interpol in Greece is investigating the loan.
OK - let's get this straight. The LA Times obtained leaked Getty documents about the scandal dating from ... three years ago... and now - shortly after the Times announced they had those documents - Munitz - I mean, the Getty - suddenly 'discovers' there has been an ethics breach at the Getty!
And they are shocked. Shocked!
OK - so what's the real, real story?
Well, if Marion True is convicted she faces serious jail time and considerable fines. And while I assume the Getty will continue to pay her legal expenses - since they are on trial too, what happens if the Italians offer her a deal to save her own skin?
What happens if they ask her to turn on the Getty and tell all she knows about their complicity(if any, of course), in exchange of a light or no sentence at all?
I imagine that might be a hard deal to turn down. Now, of course, with stakes this high, it might make sense for the Getty to cut a deal and take the 'high road' to protect any potentially guilty parties who reside up on the hill or on the board.
But if this does go to trial - it could become the Michael Jackson/OJ Simpson spectacle of the art world.
Lastly, my observation last week that new Getty curator Michael Brand is the only one at the Getty with any real power now seems particularly apt. In fact, the way things are going - he may even end up being the last man standing up there.
New York Times also covers story and lays out the timeline. House bought in 1996, Getty found out about conflict on interest in 2002, Marion True asked to resign in... late 2005.