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Getty Trust on Probation For Possible Wrongdoing

On Dec. 20 the Council on Foundations, Washington D.C., a membership organization of more than 2,000 grant-making foundations and giving programs, announced it had placed the J. Paul Getty Trust on probation for 60 days.

NEW YORK—On Dec. 20 the Council on Foundations, Washington D.C., a membership organization of more than 2,000 grant-making foundations and giving programs, announced it had placed the J. Paul Getty Trust on probation for 60 days.

The Council said it is awaiting additional information from the Getty that relates to “serious charges of misconduct leveled against the foundation in public news stories.”

A Council spokeswoman said no further information was available about the potential consequences of the review or about the nature of the information outstanding.

Asked for comment on the matter, Ron Hartwig, vice president of communications for the Trust, released the following statement: “We were alerted by the Council of its Executive Committee’s decision this morning (Tuesday, December 20, 2005). We have been working with the Council to address its questions and we look forward to cooperating with them and to reaching a satisfactory outcome.”

In June the Council initiated a review of the Getty (see ANL, 8/30/05) in the wake of news reports alleging use of foundation assets for personal benefit, excessive travel and entertainment expenses, inappropriate compensation for Trust CEO Barry Munitz, and potential self-dealing.

Council president and CEO Steve Gunderson notified the Getty of the recent decision in a letter to Getty board chairman John Biggs. “We recognize, as you have indicated, that the information provided to date is incomplete pending your further studies,” wrote Gunderson, adding that the Council expects to receive the additional information by the end of January: “We will await the receipt of that information before making further decisions regarding the foundation’s membership status with the Council.”

In his letter, Gunderson points out that the Council intends to work with the Getty to obtain additional information as well as to improve their practices: “We stand ready to work with you in ways that . . . establish a plan at the Getty to rectify the protocols that led to these abuses.”

California attorney general Bill Lockyer also launched a broad review of Trust finances last summer. That investigation is “still moving forward,” confirms spokeswoman Teresa Schilling. As yet, no charges have been filed.

Former Getty antiquities curator Marion True is currently on trial in Rome, Italy, for conspiring to purchase illegally excavated antiquities.

True resigned from the Getty after officials confronted her about the circumstances of a $400,000 loan that had been used to purchase a vacation home in Greece ten years before (see ANL, 10/11/05).

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