Elsewhere online
October 20, 2015

$450,000 Payment Draws Complaint Against San Francisco Museum Leader

Citing unnamed "multiple sources," the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the top fiscal official at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has filed a whistle-blower complaint alleging financial misconduct by the organization's board president, noted Bay Area philanthropist Diane B. "Dede" Wilsey.

Michele Gutierrez, the museums' longtime chief financial officer, claims Ms. Wilsey got her to sign off on a $450,000 payment to an ill employee without consulting the museums' board. Two trustees resigned as a result, according to the Chronicle's sources. Ms. Gutierrez declined to comment for the article, and a publicist for Ms. Wilsey said in a statement that the "disability severance payment" was initiated by Gutierrez and "approved unanimously" by the museums' board and audit committees.

Ms. Wilsey is credited with raising most of the $190 million in private funding needed to build a new home for the de Young Museum, one of two institutions that make up the Fine Arts Museums. But her leadership has been accompanied by internal turmoil, according to museum insiders. Critics accuse her of an autocratic management style, resulting in a string of high-profile staff departures in recent years.