In Art News: Getty Trust Board Changes, Museum Bezos, ‘Cheers’ Auction

The iconic bar from 'Cheers' fetched $675,000 at a TV memorabilia auction.

From a galaxy-inspired museum center funded by Jeff Bezos to the six-figure auction of a beloved prop from ‘Cheers,’ here are some of the biggest moves made in the art industry this week.

Man wearing glasses and suit poses.
Robert Lovelace was appointed chair of the J. Paul Getty Trust yesterday (June 5). J. Paul Getty Trust

A new chair at the Getty

The J. Paul Getty Trust, which manages the world’s wealthiest museum, appointed Robert Lovelace as its new chair. Lovelace first joined the Getty’s board in 2016. He will serve a four-year term and oversee the organization through its upcoming edition of Pacific Standard Time, a regional arts event in Southern California scheduled for 2024.

He is also the president and director of Capital Group Companies, a financial services organization, and holds positions with the Pacific Council on International Policy, the California Community Foundation and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation.

“Rob has a deep appreciation for the transformative power of art, and he brings extensive experience in board governance,” said Katherine E. Fleming, CEO of the Getty Trust, in a statement.

Lovelace is the founder of the Los Angeles-based Value Schools and private high school Vistamar School. A prominent philanthropist, he also established the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA’s School of Law alongside his wife Minana, in addition to donating to the Getty-launched L.A. Arts Recovery Fund, which provided pandemic assistance to arts organizations in Southern California.

He will succeed Dr. David L. Lee, who was appointed as Getty Trust chair in 2019 after becoming a trustee a decade prior.

The Smithsonian makes moves on a Bezos-funded center

Meanwhile, a new learning center at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is set to begin construction in 2025 with a design plan led by the Perkins & Will architecture firm.

Perkins & Will was chosen among five firms competing for the project. Its vision for the center will take inspiration from “the shape of a spiral galaxy,” said the company in a statement.

Design plan showing birds-eye view of center next to Smithsonian's museum
Perkin & Will’s proposal for the center. Perkin & Will

Named the Bezos Learning Center, the project is funded by a portion of Jeff Bezos’s $200 million donation to the Smithsonian in July 2021.

The Amazon (AMZN) co-founder’s gift was the museum’s largest donation since its founding gift from James Smithson in 1846, with $130 million dedicated to the center and a remaining $70 million supporting renovations at the National Air and Space Museum.

Bezos has previously made financial contributions to the Smithsonian and was a founding donor to its National Museum of African American History.

Public designs for the project were first presented for public comment in September, with Perkins & Will winning out in part due to its work on museum designs like that of the Shanghai Natural History Museum.

“They have demonstrated experience in similar projects, and I am confident they will design a building that will serve as an incredible resource for educational programming,” said Chris Browne, director of the National Air and Space Museum, in a statement.

The new center will host educational programs, activities and a restaurant, according to the museum.

“Cheers” bar heads to auction instead of a museum

The iconic bar from ‘Cheers’ fetched $675,000 at a sale hosted by Heritage Auctions, a Dallas-based auction house.

The NBC show’s bar counter and bar stools topped a 1,000-piece collection previously owned by James Comisar, who has spent three decades collecting TV memorabilia.

Wooden bar counter surrounded by bar stools.
The ‘Cheers’ bar led a historic TV memorabilia auction. Heritage Auctions

Comisar’s collection included props, costumes and sets from shows like ‘MASH,’ ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ and ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.’ The three-day auction brought in a total of more than $5.3 million.

“The auction’s success confirmed what I have always known: that television members are cherished members of our own extended family and that their stories and our own are inseparable,” said Comisar in a statement.

Comisar’s decades of collection were spent in the hopes of opening a museum for his treasured memorabilia, which he hired museum curators to take care of.

But while Comisar’s museum project was briefly considered by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation, it never came to fruition.

“These pieces have finally been afforded the cultural significance they deserve, and I am honored to pass them on,” said the collector.

In Art News: Getty Trust Board Changes, Museum Bezos, ‘Cheers’ Auction