Friday, June 10, 2005

Getty Chief Barry Munitz in the LA Times

I'm still getting through this article -- it is LONG -- but it is so good and juicy. Here are some details.

On a Wednesday in late March, seven security managers were called into a conference room at the J. Paul Getty Trust's hilltop campus in Brentwood and told that their positions had been eliminated.

It was the first in a series of layoffs and cutbacks that year at the Getty. The trust's endowment had lost more than $1 billion in two years, mostly because of declining stock markets. Despite its reputation for bottomless wealth, the Getty was pinching pennies.

But the cuts didn't apply to everyone.

Days after the security layoffs, trust Chief Executive Barry Munitz drove up the Getty Center's winding driveway in a new Porsche Cayenne. The Getty paid $72,000 for the SUV. When ordering it, Munitz told an aide it should include the "best possible sound system," "biggest possible sunroof" and "power everything…."

Records show that he has employed the Getty's money and reputation to do favors for friends, once using trust letterhead to petition a state agency on behalf of a securities trader — related to his wife by marriage — convicted of fraud in the 1980s.

He has dispatched his office's driver to pick up videotapes of recent episodes of "Law & Order" and "The West Wing," instructed his assistants to express mail him umbrellas when he travels, and asked them to track down items for his wife, Anne T. Munitz.

"ATM saw in Europe but can't find her Tropicana blood orange juice, no pulp, not from concentrate," Munitz said in one dictation. "Can you look on the website and find out where we can get this on a regular basis locally?"

Under the tax code, nonprofits must use their resources for the public good. The Internal Revenue Service considers excessive pay, travel and perks to be "self-dealing": the illegal use of tax-exempt resources for private benefit.

Tyler Green has a nice post on it on his blog here. An exerpt is below.

Barry Munitz did not spend $6,000 of Getty money on a shower curtain. Otherwise this morning's LAT Barry Munitz expose reads like Tyco-on-a-hill, Kozlowski-goes-to-Brentwood. The details -- the chronicling of Munitz' use of Getty funds -- are disturbingly amusing. The LAT piece is a must-read.

If I'm one of Munitz' bosses/trustees, I'm pretty darn embarassed this morning. I'd have found out that Barry Munitz gave an organization a grant so that the organization could give Barry Munitz an award. I'd have found out that I threw away the wrapping paper on a gift Munitz gave me -- and that the wrapping paper could have been more expensive than the bauble. And that the Getty paid for both.

Of course, if I work at the Getty and my budget has been cut, I'd be even more livid. My budget was cut so Barry could kick it with Eli and Dick Riordan in the Mediterranean? And jet around Cuba, arranging chess matches between mayors and Stalinist dictators? C'mon.

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