Los Angeles MOCA Loses Three Finance Officials and a Curator

MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch and MOCA founding Chairman Eli Broad. (Courtesy Gary Leonard)

The Museum of Contemporary Art is losing three key officials—the chief operating officer, the fundraising director and the chair of the board’s finance committee, the Los Angeles Times reports. They had been in office for less than a year. MOCA has incurred large deficits by illicitly dipping into its own endowment from 2002-2008, and attempts to pay those deficits down have been stymied since Jeffrey Deitch took the helm as the director in 2010. An anonymous source said MOCA has “projected a deficit for the current fiscal year.”

A brief from the board stated that while Mr. Deitch and the board have worked to “make staff changes where appropriate to strengthen the team,” it also added “we have continued to build the board with the addition of five newly-elected trustees in the last 12 months.”

Gary Cypres said he resigned in late January or early February but wouldn’t give a reason. His wife Kathi will remain a trustee. David M. Galligan, who oversaw the business operations and was second in line to Mr. Deitch, left in February, as per his LinkedIn account. Sarah Sullivan, who was the former director of development or head fundraiser, confirmed she left in December.

Former chief executive, Charles E. Young said that the string of recent departures following two others midway through 2011 (chief financial officer Richard Weil and trustee Fabrizio Bonanni), is “a turnover that begins to look like turmoil.”

This news breaks at a time when MOCA is also losing senior curator Philipp Kaiser. Mr. Kaiser is set to become the director of Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany—a modern and contemporary art museum—on November 1. But whereas the financial leaders have already departed, Mr. Kaiser, who before starting at MOCA in 2007 was a curator at Gegenwartskunst Basel in Switzerland, is set to leave in May.