Corrections added 9-17-2012
Officially, there is no admission charge to visit the Getty Museum. That's per the old man's bequest, if I recall correctly. But if you drive a car to the Getty, yes even a Prius, it costs you $15 — and as of this year that's even if you are a scholar who has to go up the hill to work. (It's $10 to park after 5 p.m., a new fee added last year.) Now, a copy of the Getty Trust's Form 990 that is going around — that's the IRS form where tax-exempt foundation's publicly disclose their income and the salaries of top officials — says that the institution collected $6,451,647 in parking revenue last year.
That's an impressive number: $6.4 million in parking revenue, more than the annual income of many, many non-profits in Los Angeles. For those who are chagrined by the unofficial admission fee, the plot thickens when they look deeper into the 990 forms. They show the parking income in tax year 2009 was just $4,707,447. That year the Getty bumped the parking charge up to $15, saying it was necessary to keep the museum financially healthy. About 200 positions were also eliminated. By 2011, the last year for which the Getty has filed, the parking revenue had swelled to $6.4 million. So the parking fee hike, and any increase in visits, brought in an extra $1,774,200 a year.
The right numbers, which change the point:
2009 compensation: $3,501,872
Net increase to 2011: $560,702
Difference between parking revenue and compensation payout: $1,213,498
Those same 990 forms also show that between 2009 and last year, the amount paid in compensation to officers, directors and trustees also swelled — from $2,301,872* (in '09) to $4,062,574 (in '11.) That's a net increase in high-level salaries of $1,760,702" for the year.
Using what Bill Clinton calls arithmetic, that suggests all but $16,502* of the increased parking revenues went for compensation to the highest officers at the Getty. Nice to know, if you're just an art lover who wants to visit one of the richest-endowed museums in the world.
Meanwhile, Getty fellows who visit the museum these days for meetings and research sessions say they are being told their $15 parking fee is discountable — but only by $10.