How do you round off $195,000 in office upgrades?

With more than $5,000 in loaned museum artwork of course.

Norberto Santana at the Orange County Register has the scoop. Supervisor John Moorlach, who today will host an openhouse to show off his newly remodeled office at the Hall of Administration, has added 11 paintings and reproductions from the Irvine Museum, to further spruce up his diggs.

The art exhibit doesn’t cost taxpayers a cent but raises thorny questions about how donations to public officials are handled and disclosed.

County attorneys say the art loan is not reportable to the public because it isn’t a gift, the disclosure of which the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission requires.

Moorlach said he got the idea last summer after he and his wife visited the museum. A California history buff and fan of plein air art, Moorlach said a museum official mentioned the loan program.


Moorlach said he requested 11 paintings, which arrived just before Thanksgiving.

“I don’t see Joan Irvine Smith coming to us for money. I don’t know where the quid pro quo or conflict is,” Moolach said. “It just provides a nice environment. … Why can’t we do something where it doesn’t cost the taxpayers anything?”

Yet Irvine Smith has become an opponent of county plans to extend the 241 toll way and is active in a series of environmental issues as well as a statewide fundraiser for political campaigns.

Museum officials said their program is one of many in which they try to foster wider viewing of the paintings and reproductions the museum owns.

“It’s a public outreach program,” said Irvine Museum Executive Director James Swinden. “These are not loaned to individuals; they are loaned to the public. They’re supposed to be in areas accessible to the public,” he said.

Can someone please tell me how acessible these paintings are going to be while locked behind the closed doors of the fifth floor offices of a member of the Board of Supervisors.

  2 comments for “How do you round off $195,000 in office upgrades?

  1. Flowerszzz
    December 12, 2007 at 8:24 am

    To be honest – I dont see the issue here. I would rather have the pictures on “loan” then purchased with my tax dollars and it can be good for the artists. I am surprised you have an issue with this.

  2. Citizen Betty
    December 12, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    William Wendt’s is long dead and buried. His paintings sell for over six figures. Mr. Moorlach has expensive taste.
    Here is an article quote, “A world record auction price for a Wendt painting was set on Nov. 4, 1998, when Christie’s, Los Angeles, sold “In the Valley” for $530,000. The piece was estimated to sell for $80,000-$120,000. Wendt’s paintings usually range from $20,000-$150,000. “

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