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Getty's top executives give up some pay

May 1, 2009 |  1:14 pm


Nine top executives of the J. Paul Getty Trust will give up about $250,000 in pay in conjunction with other budgetary cuts during the coming fiscal year, a museum spokeswoman said Thursday.

The executive pay cuts are a fraction of the $64-million whacking the Getty's budget is in for -- a 22.5% reduction for what remains the world's most richly endowed arts institution, even though that endowment has shrunk from $6.4 billion to $4.2 billion since mid-2007.

As Culture Monster reported Wednesday, the trust -- which operates the Getty Museum in Brentwood and the Getty Villa near Malibu -- announced that 97 people working under those executives would lose their jobs as it tries to ride out the financial crisis. Regular annual operating costs are to drop from $284 million to $220 million.

Each of the Getty's top three earners will take a 6% salary hit in the coming fiscal year, according to the numbers in the compensation disclosure posted on the Getty's website. President James Wood, Chief Investment Officer James Williams and Getty Museum Director Michael Brand will receive base pay of $684,320, $800,654 and $513,079, respectively.

MichaelBrand Williams is in charge of the decimated investment portfolio, which the Getty this week announced had taken a 27% licking during the nine months ending March 31. He likely will have to do without bonuses of up to 30% of his regular pay that his deal previously had allowed if the endowment's performance hit certain benchmarks. In September, around the time the economy began to cave in, the trustees awarded Williams $122,850 in incentive payments. According to the Getty's posted compensation disclosure, "management" is recommending no incentives for 2009-10, and the board is "expected" to confirm that at its meeting this month.

Other big university and nonprofit endowments have suffered comparable losses in the meltdown. But the Getty's position is especially vulnerable because it relies almost entirely on investment earnings -- plus some walking-around money from items such as performance admissions, food service, museum-shop sales and parking fees, which Wednesday's report said will rise from $10 to $15 at both venues on July 1. The free admission policy continues. (In comparison, parking at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art costs $7 and has a $12 adult general admission charge.)

Long viewed as the Croesus of the arts world, the Getty typically has shied from competing for donations with other nonprofits, does not require its trustees to make annual contributions and never has cultivated a corps of givers it can call on to help plug budgetary leaks. 

The Getty also is unusual in making its executives' current salaries public. That policy is a result of its emphasis on transparent governance in the wake of the 2006 ouster of former President Barry Munitz, who resigned amid scandals over improper spending and questionable acquisitions of ancient Greek and Roman artworks, about 40 of which have since been repatriated to Italy and Greece. It's common for nonprofits to withhold salary information until they have filed their federal tax returns, which by law must be made available to the public, but often don't surface until a year or more after the end of a budget year.

Also sacrificing some pay are Patricia Woodworth, the vice president and chief financial officer, Thomas Gaehtgens, director of the Getty Research Institute, and general counsel Stephen Clark, who will take respective cuts of 4%, 4% and 2%. Their downsized salaries will be $465,480 for Woodworth, $443,520 for Gaehtgens and $343,000 for Clark. Three others, communications Vice President Ron Hartwig, Getty Foundation Director Deborah Marrow and Getty Conservation Institute Director Tim Whalen also are sustaining cuts, but it wasn't clear from the Getty's seven-page "Senior Management Compensation" document how large those will be. A spokeswoman said Thursday that comparison figures for them were not immediately available; according to figures posted on Silence Dogetty, a blog set up by Getty employees to vent anonymously about their situation, the three will lose a combined $19,000 in pay, or 2%. In the coming year Hartwig will make $329,226, Marrow, $321,048, and Whalen, $293,336. 

Add 'em all up, and the Getty's starting nine will pull down $4.2 million in salary, or 1.9% of that $220-million budget.  

Additional housing allowances paid to four members of the Getty brain trust will remain in effect. Brand (above) lives rent-free in a Getty-owned museum director's residence (a value of $280,000), Wood, who was lured out of retirement in Rhode Island to give the crisis-racked Getty a respected hand on the wheel after his many years leading the Art Institute of Chicago, receives an annual housing allowance of $240,000, Gaehtgens, $78,000, and Woodworth, $75,000.

Other pay perks: All nine execs had additional deferred compensation in 2008, ranging from $11,000 to $109,000 and averaging $44,800. All except Clark, Woodworth and Gaehtgens received extra payments to offset federally imposed limits on retirement plans, averaging $62,800.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Getty Center in Brentwood. Credit: Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times
Photo: Michael Brand. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times