The Getty board has awakened from a long slumber and has appointed a committee to examine, uh, well, to examine the kinds of things the board should examine without having to announce they’re examining something.
First, I can’t help but notice that the committee is stocked with allies of Getty boss Barry Munitz. The LAT noted the incestuous mix:
In addition to Biggs and Bryson, the committee members will be Lloyd Cotsen, Jay Wintrob and Luis Nogales. Cotsen, Wintrob and Nogales have links to Munitz.
Cotsen is a philanthropist, archeologist and former chief executive of Neutrogena Corp. Munitz sits on the board of Cotsen’s family foundation.
Nogales, the former president of Univision, sits with Munitz on the boards of AIG SunAmerica and KB Home. Wintrob is chief executive of AIG SunAmerica. Both companies were founded by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, a close friend of Munitz.
In December, The Times reported that Broad purchased a Brentwood property from the Getty for $700,000 less than its appraised value. Records show that Munitz directed his aides to delay listing the property publicly so he could discuss a transaction directly with Broad. Munitz has acknowledged that his involvement with the deal would have posed a conflict of interest, given his friendship with Broad, but has denied being directly engaged in the land sale.
Yeah, that sounds like a real neutral bunch.
- Why is it Munitz knew about Marion True’s ethically questionable dealings for three years before acting earlier this month?
- Are Munitz’ expenses out of line with his peers at other foundations? (Hint: Compare to Gates, Ford and Pew.)
- Has the Getty board itself been too lax in its oversight? And if so (ahem), why?
- Is it proper for the Trust to give grants to Los Angeles organizations so that those organizations can give awards to… Trust leaders?
- It’s clear that the Getty has in its collection some antiquities with murky pasts. There are ethical questions, legal questions and geo-political questions here, all in equal parts. Are these Getty problems or are they problems for American museums in general? Maybe this problem shouldn’t be solved by the Getty alone.