Deitch Ditches LA MoCA

Jeffrey Deitch, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, will step down from his job, the institution’s board of trustees said last week.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network will not be sorry to see him exit a tumultuous term marked by financial shortfalls.

Deitch, a former gallery owner in New York, became MOCA director in 2010, an unusual transition from the commercial to the institutional side of the art world. He departs three years into his five-year contract.

He informed the board during its meeting on July 24.

Deitch will stay on “to ensure a smooth transition and the successful completion of MOCA’s $100 million endowment campaign, expected to close this fall,” the museum said in a news release.

An executive search committee to find Deitch’s replacement will be led by the board’s co-chairs Maria Bell and David Johnson as well as Joel Wachs, a former museum trustee and president of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

During Deitch’s tenure, the museum was pummeled by financial, curatorial and institutional woes. Last year, Paul Schimmel, MOCA’s longtime chief curator left the museum. In protest of his departure, four prominent artists, including John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha, quit the board of trustees.

Deitch’s first show at MOCA focused on the artistic career of actor Dennis Hopper; another exhibition was curated by Michael Diamond, a member of the rap group the Beastie Boys.

In 2011, a show of street art resulted in the highest attendance in MOCA’s history, with 201,352 people, while total visitors doubled to more than 400,000 for the year.

Trustee Cohen

During his tenure, 16 new trustees joined the board, including Hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, jeweler Laurence Graff and Hollywood talent agent Ariel Emanuel. Cohen's eponymous firm, SAC Capital, was indicted last week in Manhattan Federal Court for insider trading.

Deitch earned $916,000 in pay and benefits in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, according to the museum’s most recent tax return.

Total revenue for that year, including contributions, admissions and investment income, was $18.5 million, resulting in a deficit of $18,822. Two years earlier, MOCA’s $21.3 million in revenue exceeded expenses by $5.4 million. Deitch assumed his position June 1, 2010.

The museum’s endowment stood at $19.9 million at June 30, 2012, up from $18.6 million two years earlier, according to its tax returns.