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April 17, 2006

LOS ANGELES—The J. Paul Getty Trust today confirmed that the Council on Foundations has taken the Trust off probation and restored its full membership status.  The Council had placed the Getty Trust on probation in December 2005 pending receipt of information and the adoption of measures that addressed concerns over management and governance practices at the Trust.

“We are pleased that the Council on Foundations has acted to restore our membership status,” said Deborah Marrow, interim president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.  “We have worked closely with the Council to address its concerns, and we are confident the Council’s decision was based on a belief that the measures we have taken to strengthen existing policies and implement new measures will set a high standard going forward.”

Acknowledging that the actions taken by the Getty largely grew out of the work of a Special Committee formed by the Board of Trustees to review management issues reported by the media, John Biggs, chairman of the Board said, “The Board has been fully engaged in this process and has benefited from the work of its Special Committee, which was formed last October.  Supported by outside counsel and internal staff, the Committee has explored effective ways to ensure the problems that arose at the Getty will not be repeated. “ 

The Council on Foundations removed the Getty from probation based on actions taken by the Getty’s Board of Trustees at a meeting held April 4, 2006.  Following the meeting, Mr. Biggs and Ms. Marrow advised Steve Gunderson, president and chief executive officer of the Council on Foundations, that the Getty Board had taken decisive steps to assure compliance with the highest ethical standards by both strengthening existing measures and adopting new structures designed to follow governance best practices.

“Getty policies that had been in place for some time, and those adopted more recently provided an approach to governance that has been well respected in the non-profit community.  But clearly some changes were needed that made it more difficult for policies to be circumvented,” said Mr. Biggs.  “Working with the Council on Foundations, which has deep knowledge of non-profit best practices, we think the Getty’s approach to governance clearly has been enhanced and hopefully will be considered a model to be followed.”

In making its decision, the Council on Foundations made it clear that newly implemented measures that strengthen oversight and governance were key to the restoration of the Trust’s membership status.  Among the policy changes approved by the Getty’s Board are the following:

  • Establishing a self-assessment protocol for the board and invigorating its new member orientation process to provide standardized training regarding the obligations related to governance issues, tax-exempt status and private foundation rules, as well as Getty policies and programs. 
  • Increasing shared responsibility for compensation and performance reviews for senior management by involving the entire Compensation Committee and Board;
  • Strengthening conflict of interest provisions, instituting an enhanced independent “whistleblower” process for employees to raise issues and complaints, and ensuring that Getty policies are clear and easily accessible for employee review;

  • Requiring that all grants are subject to the already stringent rules governing the Getty Foundation’s grant policies and procedures;

  • Clear and unambiguous rules with regard to the personal use of Getty personnel, together with training measures to ensure all Getty employees are informed;

  • Requiring Board approval for significant real estate purchases and/or sales;
  • Revised and strengthened reporting and approval provisions for business expenses; and
  • Enhancing transparency through the creation of a Governance section on the Getty’s website.

Mr. Biggs noted that the changes approved by the Board at its April meeting are in addition to measures the Getty’s Board had previously adopted, including the establishment of independent Audit, Compensation and Leadership and Governance Committees, the adoption of Board term limits, and the implementation of various provisions adapted from Sarbanes-Oxley and the California Non-Profit Integrity Act.

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Ron Hartwig
Getty Communications Department

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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Visiting the Getty Center: The Getty Center is open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed Monday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm on Saturdays and for evening events throughout the week. No reservation is required for parking or general admission. Reservations are required for event seating and groups of 15 or more. Please call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish) for reservations and information. The TTY line for callers who are deaf or hearing impaired is 310-440-7305. The Getty Center is at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, California.

Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.