Oil Empire of the Temple Muses

“Dina Vierny, the model whose ample flesh and soft curves inspired the sculptor Aristide Maillol, rejuvenating his career, and who eventually founded a museum dedicated to his work, died on Jan. 20 in Paris. She was 89.”

‘Capturing Beauty’


Jon Presco

Copyright 2017

“I have just undergone one of the most exceptional and curious experiences of my career,” Lipton began. “I had a meeting with Gordon and his lawyers that was patently absurd. They made an absolutely absurd proposal. It was truly outrageous. It involved firing the entire board of directors, and obviously it is totally unacceptable to the museum.”

I find myself at the World Labyrinth of The Oil Muses. In my next blog I will show how Lawrence Chazen, a friend and financial advisor of Paul Getty, tried to rest control of the Rosamond legacy, the same way Paul did the family art museum. Add to this, the fact  the law firm of Robert Brevoort Buck, inadvertently gave aid to Chazen’s ambition, connects these artistic legacies to the Buck Foundation, which came under attack by attorneys, also.

As a artist, and Art Historian, I am the premiere creative voice that has ben stifled. Artists and Muses defy legal and history jargon. We own our own language that springs from our visions. We are often titled ‘Mad’. For instance, alas I found the embodiment of my deviant and legalistic Muse, Belle Burch, who was surrounded by radical attorneys. She has the same body as Dina Vierny, and, when we met expressed to me she wanted to be a radical artist of sorts. She spoke perfect French. She represents Captured Rosamond.

Because of the insane legal wars over art, I am going to put together a proposal that will establish the Beryl Buck Museum and Art History College where the destructive influence of oil billionaires, is vanquished. Honest Artist Monks will have a true sanctuary to speak their mind, and render masterpiece that will serve humankind. This is – Oil Justice!


“In the same period when she was modeling, Ms. Vierny, who had joined the Resistance early on during World War II, led refugees from Nazism across the Pyrenees into Spain as part of an American organization operating out of Marseille.

The English “museum” comes from the Latin word, and is pluralized as “museums” (or rarely, “musea”). It is originally from the Ancient Greek Μουσεῖον (Mouseion), which denotes a place or temple dedicated to the Muses (the patron divinities in Greek mythology of the arts), and hence a building set apart for study and the arts,[3] especially the Musaeum (institute) for philosophy and research at Alexandria by Ptolemy I Soter about 280 BCE.[4] The first museum/library is considered to be the one of Plato in Athens.[5]


The purpose of modern museums is to collect, preserve, interpret, and display items of artistic, cultural, or scientific significance for the education of the public. From a visitor or community perspective, the purpose can also depend on one’s point of view. A trip to a local history museum or large city art museum can be an entertaining and enlightening way to spend the day. To city leaders, a healthy museum community can be seen as a gauge of the economic health of a city, and a way to increase the sophistication of its inhabitants. To a museum professional, a museum might be seen as a way to educate the public about the museum’s mission, such as civil rights or environmentalism. Museums are, above all, storehouses of knowledge. In 1829, James Smithson’s bequest, that would fund the Smithsonian Institution, stated he wanted to establish an institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”[6]


A museum (/mjuːˈziːəm/ mew-ZEE-əm; plural musea or museums) is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Many public museums make these items available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary.[1]

Dina Vierny, the model whose ample flesh and soft curves inspired the sculptor Aristide Maillol, rejuvenating his career, and who eventually founded a museum dedicated to his work, died on Jan. 20 in Paris. She was 89.

Her death was announced by the Fondation Dina Vierny-Musée Maillol, which she founded in 1995.

In the same period when she was modeling, Ms. Vierny, who had joined the Resistance early on during World War II, led refugees from Nazism across the Pyrenees into Spain as part of an American organization operating out of Marseille.

Ms. Vierny was a 15-year-old lycée student in Paris when she met Maillol, in the mid-1930s. The architect Jean-Claude Dondel, a friend of her father’s, decided that she would make the perfect model for the artist, who was 73 and in the professional doldrums.

“Mademoiselle, it is said that you look like a Maillol and a Renoir,” Maillol wrote to her. “I’d be satisfied with a Renoir.”

For the next 10 years, until his death in a car accident in 1944, Ms. Vierny was Maillol’s muse, posing for monumental works of sculpture that belied her modest height of 5 feet 2 inches. By mutual agreement, the relationship was strictly artistic.

The statue became the centerpiece of the Getty Villa museum in Malibu’s permanent collection. When the Getty bought it, however, they had to turn their necks all the way around like owls to avoid seeing the glaring evidence that it had been recently looted from Morgantina, Sicily, a former Greek colony and an extensive archaeological site that was poorly guarded and a prime target for thieves. Instead they claimed to believe the ludicrously false cover story that the goddess had been secreted away since the 1930s in a mysterious private collection in Switzerland, the Canadian girlfriend of provenances.

Finally, under pressure from the Italian government who had put Getty curator Marion True on trial and were loudly clamoring for the return of illegally exported artifacts, in 2006 the Getty hired a private investigator to trace the statue’s history of ownership, and the investigator found a number of photographs dating to the early ’80s showing the statue in pieces, fresh dirt still encrusted on her face, on a plastic tarp on a floor somewhere. So much for the Swiss collection from the ’30s. The investigators also found evidence linking the “collector” to a Sicilian smuggling ring.

Faced with this damning evidence, in 2007 the Getty board caved and agreed to return the goddess to Italy. (The year after that the LA Times revealed that the Getty had had a chance to see those same pictures a decade earlier, but they chose not to. Can you spell willful blindness, boys and girls? I knew you could.)


Royal Dutch Shell plc (LSERDSA, RDSB), commonly known as Shell, is a British–Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in the Netherlands and incorporated in the United Kingdom.[2] It is one of the six oil and gas “supermajors” and the sixth-largest company in the world measured by 2016 revenues (and the largest based in Europe).[1] Shell was first in the 2013 Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies;[3] in that year its revenues were equivalent to 84% of the Netherlands’ $556 billion GDP.[4]

Belridge Oil Company discovered the field. It retained control of operations until 1979 when Shell Oil purchased the company along with most of the production rights on the South Belridge Field for $3.65 billion. Currently Aera Energy LLC is the main operator on the field. They claim a daily production of 140,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe/d) from the entire Belridge Unit, with the oil being shipped to the refineries in Martinez and Torrance for processing into gasoline and other products.[7][8]

Only one other field in the U.S., California’s Ventura field, is believed to have the potential to eventually produce 1 billion bbl. To the first of this year, Ventura field had produced 930.2 million bbl and had reserves estimated by the DOGGR of 81.8 million bbl.

Getty asked if he could speak to Petersen privately and then stepped into the chairman’s office. “I have a list of three things that I am interested now in studying,” he said. “The first priority is a possible leveraged buyout–with a fence–of the entire Getty Oil Co. This would be done in conjunction with the museum; we would be partners, in control of 51% of the stock. I would like Goldman to undertake a study of whether this would be feasible.”

He told Petersen that if his deal with the museum didn’t work out, he wanted to dissolve Getty Oil into a partnership, and if that didn’t work, his final alternative was simple liquidation of the company.

Getty told his lawyers that the oil company’s directors were “a bunch of snakes,” and he vowed to approach the museum with “an offer they can’t refuse”–a proposal to take joint control of the company by “consent,” an act no more difficult than signing a piece of paper. If the museum agreed to share power with Getty, they could fire Petersen with the stroke of a pen.

When Getty came upon this idea, Harold Williams and the Getty Museum trustees were in London on a kind of shopping trip for works of art. So Getty decided early in October to fly over and make his proposal to Williams in person. Getty’s attorneys told Petersen and his advisers that if they wanted to stop Getty, they had better come up with a favorable plan quickly. Petersen responded by calling an emergency board meeting in Philadelphia, where the directors authorized the issuance of 9 million “treasury shares” of Getty Oil stock, enough to dilute the power of Getty and the museum should they decide to sign a consent takeover.

museum’s stock position should open war erupt between Getty and the company. And not just any lawyer–Williams had retained Martin Lipton, Wall Street’s premier takeover attorney, a man of singular reputation in American finance. Both Getty Oil and Gordon Getty’s legal advisers assumed that Lipton had been playing a significant role behind the scenes that summer, advising Williams about how the museum should respond to Getty’s various takeover proposals. Lipton’s reputation exacerbated the fears of Sid Petersen and the others as they flew to London. Harold Williams must be serious about a bid for control of Getty Oil; why else would he retain Marty Lipton, the man of a thousand mergers?

“I have just undergone one of the most exceptional and curious experiences of my career,” Lipton began. “I had a meeting with Gordon and his lawyers that was patently absurd. They made an absolutely absurd proposal. It was truly outrageous. It involved firing the entire board of directors, and obviously it is totally unacceptable to the museum.”

I’ll go down the hall and see if Mr. Getty’s lawyers, or Mr. Getty himself, would be willing to enter into a standstill,” Lipton said.

Lipton found Getty in his suite with two of his lawyers, Lasky not among them. “You have one hour to agree to a standstill,” Lipton said. The “or else” attached to his deadline was the implication that Getty Oil would immediately issue its 9 million treasury shares, diluting Getty’s stock position. Lasky was summoned to the suite, and Lipton and another lawyer from his firm stepped into the adjoining room so that Getty could talk privately with his attorneys.

The next day, Sid Petersen and his exhausted advisers flew back to the United States, some to New York, others to Philadelphia and Los Angeles. For the lawyers, the merger game players, there was a self-conscious awareness that the adventures in London had raised the battle for control of Getty Oil to a new plane of exotic interest. “Who do you think will play Gordon in the movie version?” one lawyer asked another on the flight back.

GORDON GETTY FELT BETRAYED by the “snakes” on Sid Petersen’s board of directors. His proposal to Harold Williams and the museum had been flatly rejected. Marty Lipton had described Getty’s think ing as “absurd.” Moreover, Getty’s own attorneys had made it clear that they thought his ideas and plans were wrong, mistaken. In the face of all this disapproval and disappointment, there was a part of Getty that seemed to say, to hell with them. Not long after his return to San Francisco, for example, he received a large bill for services from the Lasky law firm. The bill drove Getty into a rage; Lasky was told that his client was so upset that he was thinking about retaining new attorneys.


The mood would pass–the moods always did, and then Getty would be his whimsical, charming, earnest self again. In fact, just three weeks after his return, he signed the standstill that he had rejected in London. And far from selling his trust’s shares in Getty Oil, he retained New York investment banker Martin Siegel to help him “maximize the value” of his fortune. (Siegel was later discovered to have sold inside information about Getty Oil deals to Ivan Boesky.) Getty also told Petersen that there were new ideas to be explored at the company. But the scene in London had changed things. It had bolstered management’s resolve to support a family lawsuit challenging Getty’s right to be sole trustee of the family stock. And it had stirred the interest of Getty’s relatives.

The first contact came on Monday, Oct. 10, when Gordon Getty’s brother J. Paul Jr. telephoned from London. Paul spoke to both Gordon and his wife, and to both he expressed his concern that Gordon was fouling things up at Getty Oil and that Gordon would lead the family into a new round of internal dissension and lawsuits if he did not accept a corporate co-trustee to help manage the family trust. Gordon and Ann tried to assure Paul, a registered heroin addict who received about $30 million in dividends annually from the trust, that there was no need to worry. At one point, Paul burst into tears over the prospect that Getty’s refusal to accept a co-trustee would lead to family in-fighting

Shortly thereafter, Paul wrote to Gordon in San Francisco. “It was Father’s clear intention that there should be a corporate co-trustee,” his letter said. “I don’t want to threaten you or even appear to, but I’m afraid that litigation will be inevitable if you don’t quickly agree to another trustee and I’m sad to think that I, too, would be sucked into it.”

At virtually the same time, Gordon began to hear from the daughters of his late half brother, George. “I have heard from several sources that you are attempting to make some major changes that concern Getty Oil, the museum and the Sarah C. Getty Trust,” one of his nieces wrote on Oct. 21. “I am concerned that you are continuing to act as sole trustee.”

The question of which child it would be was complicated. Paul had four children by his first marriage, to Gail Harris, and one by his second, to Talitha Pol, who died in 1971 of a drug overdose. The children by his first marriage lived in California, near their mother. Among them was J. Paul Getty III, the unfortunate heir who lost an ear to Italian kidnapers and was subsequently rendered a paraplegic by a drug overdose. J. Paul III’s medical bills ran to $25,000 a month, and at one point his father refused to pay them, forcing Gail Harris to petition for relief in court. During that period, Gordon Getty had supported Harris and her children. Paul’s son by Talitha Pol, however, had no particular loyalty to Gordon and no mother to intervene should Paul decide to sponsor a lawsuit against his brother in San Francisco. This child’s name was Tara Gabriel Galaxy Gramaphone Getty. He was born, as one might guess, in 1968. He was now a student at a boarding school in England.


On November 20, 2006, the director of the museum, Michael Brand, announced that 26 disputed pieces were to be returned to Italy, but not the Victorious Youth, which is still claimed by the Italian authorities. In 2007, the Los Angeles J. Paul Getty Museum was forced to return 40 artifacts, including a 5th-century BC statue of the goddess Aphrodite, which was looted from Morgantina, an ancient Greek settlement in Sicily.[17] The Getty Museum resisted the requests of the Italian government for nearly two decades, only to admit later that “there might be ‘problems'” attached to the acquisition.”[18] In 2006, Italian senior cultural official Giuseppe Proietti said: “The negotiations haven’t made a single step forward.” Only after he suggested the Italian government “to take cultural sanctions against the Getty, suspending all cultural cooperation,”[19] did the J. Paul Getty Museum return the antiquities.








The Kern Community Foundation, which manages local philanthropic giving, has been around since 1999, when the David and Lucille Packard Foundation seeded it with a $500,000 grant.

The motivation behind its creation was simple: The founders wanted to make it easy for people to donate intelligently to local nonprofits. But there was a secondary impetus too, and it goes back 25 years.

Call it the big one that got away.

The Belridge Oil Co., founded in 1911, made its owners phenomenally wealthy. The Whittier and Buck families ran a billion-barrel oil field in western Kern County that, by the time the company was sold to Shell in 1979, had probably produced $10 billion in gross revenues.

The childless Buck family left behind what was initially thought to be a $10 million estate, most of it earmarked for an endowment, but by the time the accounting from the Shell sale was settled, the Buck Trust was worth many times more. The sole benefactor of the endowment, as specified by the late Beryl H. Buck, the widow of oilman Leonard Buck, was (and is) Marin County charities, specifically including the “needy” of that area.

The irony, of course, is that Marin County is indisputably the wealthiest county in California; Kern, where virtually all of the Buck family wealth was created, is among the state’s poorest.

The Bucks lived in the Marin County enclave of Ross, per square foot some of the most expensive land on the continent. If Mrs. Buck ever set foot in Bakersfield, history does not record it. “I saw the Whittiers around there once in a while,” said John Myers, a 30-year employee of Belridge Oil who turns 100 in January, “but I never even knew about the Bucks.”

The Marin Community Foundation is the largest organization of its kind in California, and the Buck Trust supplied all of the money that started it. It’s still the single largest endowment within the foundation, which as of June 30 had assets of $1.1 billion.

Since 1986, when the San Francisco Foundation lost control of the Buck Trust in a headline-making court battle, the Marin Community Foundation has distributed $725 million, creating and providing ongoing operational funding to the Buck Institute for Age Research, the Buck Institute for Education, the Marin Institute’s alcohol watchdog group and other nonprofits and community projects.

The Max Whittier Foundation, Lee K. Whittier Foundation and Whittier Family Trust also left endowments elsewhere around the country.

And they, like the Buck Trust, trace their origins back a century, in great measure, to the southern San Joaquin Valley.

On Monday, they made good on the agreement.

The 7-foot tall, 1,300-pound statue of limestone and marble was painstakingly taken off display at the Getty Villa and disassembled in December. Last week, it was locked in shipping crates with an Italian diplomatic seal and loaded aboard an Alitalia flight to Rome, where it arrived on Thursday. From there it traveled with an armed police escort by ship and truck to the small hilltop town of Aidone, Sicily, where it arrived Saturday to waiting crowds.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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1 Response to Oil Empire of the Temple Muses

  1. Reblogged this on Rosamond Press and commented:

    The Gettys have all the money and art in the world.

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