Jeffrey Deitch is expected to resign as director of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art imminently, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
One person, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that Deitch was “choosing to step down.” Another person who has spoken to Deitch said that MOCA is expected to announce Deitch’s exit along with the news that the museum is nearing completion of a fundraising campaign it announced in March to boost its endowment from about $20 million to $100 million.
The person who spoke with Deitch, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the fundraising success would enable Deitch to exit with a parting accomplishment. Deitch had a five-year contract to lead MOCA and has served slightly more than three years.
A MOCA staff member who was not authorized to speak publicly said that “major news” is anticipated from a museum board meeting scheduled for Wednesday.
Neither Deitch nor a MOCA spokesperson immediately returned calls for comment.
Citing unnamed sources, Tom Christie of the arts blog B.L.A.T.C. posted an item Monday saying MOCA has formed a search committee to replace Deitch, who, Christie said, was hunting for an apartment and a new gallery space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Deitch rose to prominence in the contemporary art world as an art dealer and head of Deitch Projects, a Manhattan gallery in which he focused not only on established artists who commanded big prices but emerging figures who explored intersections between visual art and popular culture.
Deitch earned $917,377 in 2011, his second year at MOCA and the most recent one publicly reported in the museum’s tax filings. That included a delayed $300,000 signing and relocation bonus that boosted his second-year earnings past the salary in the $600,000s he had earned his first year.
In an interview with The Times last year, Deitch acknowledged that his tenure at MOCA had been rocky amid disputes with curators and a struggle to raise money. But he defended MOCA’s exhibitions program: “What we’re doing here now, it’s on the most serious level. It’s as good as any museum in the country.”