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Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, Guess’ Maurice Marciano join MOCA board

Originally posted by the Los Angeles Times
October 3rd, 2012

Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art announced Wednesday that top Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel and Guess apparel magnate Maurice Marciano have joined the museum’s board.

Their arrival comes after eight months in which eight MOCA trustees either resigned from the board or chose not to renew their membership as their terms expired.

The museum’s turbulent year has seen it reduce its budget to levels not seen since the 1990s, dropping it behind UCLA’s Hammer Museum as the biggest-budgeted L.A. museum devoted solely or primarily to contemporary art.

Emanuel is co-chair of the William Morris Endeavor talent agency (known as WME), and the brother of Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayor and former congressman and chief of staff for President Obama. Known for being outspoken and sometimes combative, Ari Emanuel was the model for the character Ari Gold, a frenetic talent agent in the HBO television series “Entourage.”

MOCA’s announcement said that over the last two years Emanuel has been “instrumental” in helping the museum forge a relationship with Google that led to Monday’s launch of the MOCAtv channel on Google-owned YouTube. He also is on the board of the American Film Institute.

Marciano is one of four brothers who founded jeans-maker and clothing retailer Guess Inc. in 1981; he was a top executive of the company, known for helping to introduce a new level of sexuality in advertising, until retiring in January. He still chairs the corporate board.

Marciano was a MOCA trustee for several months in 2008, but was one of nine board members who resigned around the time of the museum’s financial meltdown late that year.

MOCA said that over the last two years Marciano has donated or promised three works for its collection — a sculpture by Sterling Ruby and paintings by Wade Guyton and Tauba Auerbach. He is also on the board of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In the statement announcing their election, David G. Johnson, co-chairman of the MOCA board, described Emanuel and Marciano as “two individuals who are major forces in the contemporary art world.”

The responsibility for funding nonprofit museums rests ultimately with their trustees, who at MOCA pay annual dues of $75,000, as well as a $250,000 initiation fee. But even the presence of five billionaires and the wife of a sixth on MOCA’s board hasn’t left the museum immune from budget cuts that included layoffs of seven staff members three months ago.

Over the summer, dissension broke out publicly on the board over matters of governance and the exhibition strategy under museum director Jeffrey Deitch.

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