Getty posts the big numbers

Times Staff Writer

In a move sure to please all who crave details from lifestyles of the rich and tax-exempt, the J. Paul Getty Trust has followed through on its pledge in June to add a boatload of public disclosures to its website.

The new transparency, Getty spokesman Ron Hartwig said, is part of several reforms adopted by the trust’s leaders in the last year. Last summer, the state attorney general opened a probe, now near completion, of the trust’s spending practices under then-President Barry Munitz.

Among the numbers that turned up on the trust’s website this month:

* When veteran Getty administrator Deborah Marrow was named interim president in February, trustees approved a $300,000 base salary, with another $15,000 per month as long as she’s in the interim post. This means Marrow earns slightly less than recently arrived museum director Michael Brand, who is her subordinate. Brand started on a five-year contract in December at $482,000 yearly, plus a onetime $165,000 “transition payment” and housing provided by the trust.


* In December, as the trust neared completion of the elaborate renovation of the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, Getty officials estimated the total cost would be $288.8 million rather than $275 million, the estimate that the trust had been using for much of the previous year.

Many of the figures were already part of the trust’s mandated annual tax filings. But these disclosures, more detailed than those offered by any other Los Angeles arts organization, mean an inquiring Web surfer, having found and learned the details of Rubens and Brueghel’s 17th century friendship from the Getty’s “exhibitions” pages, can then click on “about us” and “governance” and dive into deep numbers or such fanciful reading as the 53-year-old fine print on the trust indenture by which oil billionaire J. Paul Getty created the institution.

In the years since its creation, the trust’s assets have grown to $9.6 billion (as of June 30, 2005), making the Getty the world’s wealthiest arts institution. That wealth is reflected in the website charts showing the pay of past and present top officials.

Former trust President Munitz’s total compensation, they show, climbed from just over $1 million in fiscal 2003 to $1,464,378 in the year ended June 30, 2005, before his resignation under pressure in February 2006.


Also, former museum director Deborah Gribbon, who resigned in 2005 citing conflicts with Munitz, received a $3-million separation payment in addition to $364,688 in salary and benefits in fiscal 2005.

Hartwig, the vice president for communication and corporate relations who has been credited with pushing for more transparency, comes in for some exposure too. The site notes that Hartwig started in December 2005 at $304,500 yearly, plus a $100,000 signing bonus.

Here, by the way, is the short version of the Getty Trust indenture, drafted in 1953 and updated through a handful of court decisions since then: The trust’s mission is “the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge.” The trustees, who have never charged a fee for museum admission (though they do for parking), reserve the right to do so. Also, if money ever gets tight, the trustees are authorized to raid the trust’s endowment, which, unlike the endowments of many nonprofit organizations, is almost entirely unrestricted.