LACMA has offered to bail out MOCA twice in the past six years. But having met its $100 million endowment goal, MOCA is now almost as wealthy as its Hancock Park cousin. LACMA’s endowment was recently put at $115 million. MOCA has just set a new goal of $150 million, which would take it well above LACMA’s current endowment.
This isn’t about bragging rights, of course. A $100 million endowment might throw off $5 million a year in income, a fraction of MOCA’s cut-to-the-bone $14 million budget. All of L.A.’s museums—Getty and Huntington excepted—still have modest endowments relative to comparable institutions elsewhere. Eli Broad’s Grand Avenue museum will be a rich kid, opening with $200 million in the bank. The effectively brand-new Perez Art Museum Miami has a $69 million endowment.
MOCA’s endowment is 7 times its current budget. LACMA is a much bigger operation; its endowment is a year and change worth of expenses ($96 million for 2013).
How did MOCA raise so much so fast, in an ego-mad city? They’re not revealing the secret sauce, but the New York Times offers this alarming disclaimer: “none of the donations or pledges for the endowment were contingent upon Mr. Deitch’s leaving.” Jeffrey Deitch in fact is listed as one of the major donors.