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Getty’s Belated Fiscal 2009 Report: $1.25-Billion Net Investment Loss

J. Paul Getty Trust’s endowment (in billions), from fiscal ’09 annual report

Nearly a full year after the June 30, 2009 close of its annus horribilis, the J. Paul Getty Trust has just published online its Annual Report and Financial Statements for fiscal ’09. Although, percentage-wise, the endowment decline is in line with that at other recession-hit institutions, the numbers, because it’s the megabucks Getty, are staggering.

Some red-ink facts:

The Trust’s endowment declined from $6 billion on June 30, 2008 to $4.5 billion on June 30, 2009 (as shown above). The Getty’s vice president for communications, Ron Hartwig, told me today that the endowment
as of Dec. 31, 2009 (the most recent figure available) had increased to $4.9 billion.

Fiscal ’09 expenses totaled $300.75 million, against revenues and other support totaling only $28.9 million. Budgetary cutbacks resulted in a reduction in expenses of $47.81 million from the previous fiscal year.

“Total revenues, support and losses” were in the red to the tune of $1.26 billion, largely due to a $1.25-billion net investment loss. As in the previous fiscal year, the Trust still had a hefty percentage of its portfolio in alternative investments—some $2.9 billion of its $4.59 billion in total assets as of June 30, 2009. According to the financial statements, “a significant portion of the Trust’s alternative investments portfolio is made up of limited partnerships, which include private equity, venture capital, hedge funds, distressed debt, real assets and other funds.”

The Trust capitalizes its collections, unlike most major art museums, which do not regard permanent
collections as financial assets and don’t assign values to them on their
balance sheets. The Getty valued its collection at $1.9 billion at the end of fiscal 2009; $1.83 billion the previous year. The fair market value of its holdings was probably higher, however: The trust values objects at cost, if purchased; at the appraised value at the time of contribution, if donated.

Purchases of collection items in fiscal ’09 totaled $24.01 million, compared to a heftier $81.35 million the previous year.

On a more positive note: Fabio Isman reports (no link) in the June issue of the Art Newspaper that the defense lawyer in Rome for former Getty Museum curator Marion True intends to request that Italy’s prolonged antiquities-trafficking trial against her be ended on the grounds that the statute of limitations has run. True’s U.S. counsel, Harry Stang, told me today that if any such motions are filed, this would likely occur in September, in anticipation of the court hearing scheduled for Oct. 13.

Meanwhile, the Getty has just put on view the Gela Krater, a monumental red-figure vase, ca. 475-425 B.C., loaned as part if the museum’s long-term collaborative agreement with Sicily.

Attic Red-Figured Volute Krater, Greek,
About 475 – 425 B.C., attributed to the
Niobid Painter, Museo
Archeologico Regionale Agrigento,
Agrigento, Italy

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