Nailing Munitz

The Times sends three reporters after Getty Trust chief Barry Munitz, and they come back with reports of lavish spending, petty demands and much resentment. Excerpts:

Munitz is a man of grand appetites, a player among Los Angeles' elite whose effusive personality and risk-taking management style have won praise even as they have alienated some of the trust's most respected staff members...

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?"

[snip]

His critics say he has filled the Getty's top ranks with loyalists, transforming the trust into a bitter, divided place that has hemorrhaged talent.

"Barry and his key staff members not only lack the expertise, but have little regard and actually seem to have contempt for those who do have it," said Barbara Whitney, who resigned in 2004 as the museum's associate director for administration and public affairs.

"The people who dreamed the Getty Center, designed it, worked together, built it, and then opened it to the public with such acclaim and success within a few years of the opening, those same people were being treated like idiots by a handful of bureaucrats that Munitz brought in," she said.

John H. Biggs, chairman of the Getty board, wrote Times editors with unqualified support: "The board believes Dr. Munitz has done a remarkable job leading the Getty."


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