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Getty executives enjoyed big pay hikes in 2012

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Happy days were here again in 2012 for a number of folks in the executive offices of the J. Paul Getty Trust, although it wasn't the best of times for some others on the staff of about 1,250.

A “senior management compensation” disclosure dated Jan. 31 and posted on the Getty’s website shows that total compensation for the year rose by at least 8.6% for the seven executives and department heads for whom it’s possible to make direct comparisons with 2011 earnings.

The pay hikes came during a year when 34 employees were laid off from the Getty Museum, including more than a third of the museum’s education department. The Getty said the staff reduction would free up $4.3 million a year that would be directed toward art acquisitions.

The Getty’s policy of publicly posting its officers’ current compensation is highly unusual, stemming from its emphasis on transparency following a scandal over improper spending that led to the early 2006 resignation of Barry Munitz as the Getty’s president, and an investigation by California's attorney general.

The Getty’s biggest gainer and by far its biggest earner in 2012 was James Williams, the chief investment officer who oversees the $5.3 billion of investment the Trust relies on to generate the vast majority of its operating expenses, which came to $279.5 million in the fiscal year that ended last June 30.

Williams made $1.70 million -- up nearly 64% from $1.04 million in 2011. It’s the highest compensation in recent memory for a Los Angeles cultural executive, topping the $1.6 million that Los Angeles Philharmonic President Deborah Borda received in 2010 (Borda’s earnings for 2011 won’t be known until the Phil files its 2011-12 tax return later this year).

The Getty’s compensation report noted that Williams’ 2012 pay included “incentive awards”  totaling $474,729, pegged to the Trust’s investment returns over the past three fiscal years. The Getty’s audited financial statements show net investment gains totaling $1.6 billion from mid-2009 to mid-2012 as markets rebounded from the 2008-09 crash.

Williams' base salary was $851,760; he also received $361,834 toward a retirement fund.

Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig said Friday that executive salaries generally rose 3.25% to 3.75%, with increases of 7% and 10% for two individuals.

He said there has been "a modest increase for compensation across the organization."

But additional retirement payments, covering compensation for previous years as well as 2012, boosted some executives' total remuneration considerably higher. The Getty had cut executive pay at the height of the Great Recession in 2009, and some of the 2012 increases made up the lost ground.

The Getty Trust’s top executive, President James Cuno, earned $1,059,934 in his first full year on the job, including $240,000 in housing allowances. Cuno’s base annual salary rose 3.25% in mid-2012 to $751,660.

Other than Williams, Tim Whelan, director of the Getty Conservation Institute, enjoyed the biggest earnings hike in 2012, a 35% increase to $501,807. Patricia Woodworth, the Trust's chief financial officer and chief operating officer, had a 17% gain, to $722,584. 

Thomas Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute, and Hartwig, vice president for communications, both had 13.9% earnings increases, with Gaehtgens totaling $679,472  and Hartwig $424,142.

Stephen Clark, the Trust’s general counsel, had a 9.5% earnings boost to $422,613 and Marilyn Gillette, director of information technology services, saw her compensation rise 8.6%, to $307,574.

Deborah Marrow earned $450,871 as director of the Getty Foundation, the Trust’s grantmaking wing. That’s up 8.6% from what she earned during 2009, the most recent previous year she spent entirely in that position. Marrow’s 2010 and 2011 earnings were higher as she took on the job of interim president of the Getty Trust between the death of James Wood and Cuno’s arrival in August 2011.

Year-to-year comparisons can’t be made for the Getty Museum’s new director, Timothy Potts, who began last September and has an annual salary of $690,000 and a first-year signing bonus of $150,000. He will also receive moving expenses that weren’t included in the report.

Potts’ starting base salary exceeds the $546,000 base salary that his last full-time predecessor, Michael Brand, earned in 2008 before taking a 6% recession-related salary cut in 2009.

The Trust's roster of executives grew in 2012, with the hiring of its first chief fundraiser, J. Timothy Child. He earned $197,986 for 7-1/2 months work; his full-year base salary is $275,000 and he earned a $50,000 signing bonus, plus undisclosed moving expenses.

Typically, the earnings of non-profit organizations' executives and key employees don’t come to light until they file their federal tax returns -- which often is nearly a year after the end of their fiscal year.  In most cases, the annual earnings reported in the tax returns are 18 months or more out of date.

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