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Harold Williams, founding president and CEO of LA’s J. Paul Getty Trust, has died

Williams led the creation of the Getty Center and grew the institution’s endowment

by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  1 August 2017
Harold Williams, founding president and CEO of LA’s J. Paul Getty Trust, has died
Harold Williams
Harold Marvin Williams, the founding president and chief executive of the Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust, died on Sunday, 30 July, aged 89.

Williams—a businessman who had also served as the dean of the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles and the chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission—became the president and chief executive of the Getty Museum in 1981. He took up the reins as the president and chief executive of Getty Trust when it was established that same year, and held this position until 1998 (retiring on 5 January, his 70th birthday).

During his tenure, Williams grew the institution’s reach into scholarship and conservation. He spearheaded the creation of the Richard Meier-designed Getty Center in Los Angeles, which opened in 1997 and is home to the trust as well as the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute and the Getty Foundation.

Williams also grew the $1.2bn endowment the Getty received in 1982 to around $4bn in 1996, the year he announced his plans to retire. (The Getty’s endowment was listed as $6.3bn in the 2016 fiscal year, and it is the world’s wealthiest art institution.)

“The Getty today—its global reach and its Southern California presence—is a legacy of Harold M. Williams,” Maria Hummer-Tuttle, the chair of the Getty Board of Trustees, says in a statement. “He shall be remembered for his enormous contributions to the arts and humanities.”

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