Skunk - Wall Street Bonuses

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Markand Thakar

American taxpayers have become incensed by the flagrant bestowing of bonuses to the very same individuals who were responsible for the greed-caused losses incurred by Wall-Streeters that were offset with taxpayer dollars.


The Executive Director of the Art Students League advised the writer, correctly, that no mention of a director is mentioned in the League's Constitution. Back in the early 1970's, the writer served on the Board, as the League's Treasurer. At the time, the then Director, Stuart Klonis's contract detailed what his duties were. The terms included his compensation and the duties he was required to perform. A major one was to actively participate in Board meetings (which at the time were held weekly) and guide it, though without a vote, in such a manner as to have the Board act in compliance with their constitutional responsibilities: fiduciary and otherwise, as officers of the League.

Evidently, the current director doesn't have this responsibility — for if he does, he's not complying with his contractual obligations. No one in the administration or any Board member seems to have been aware that the Woman's Vice President was not eligible to run (only 3 consecutive years is allowed). Although it's arguable that a special meeting was required (it could probably have been handled after the election — at the January meeting called for in the League's Constitution — but is currently being ignored), a special meeting was held — one that required an expenditure for staff, postage and legal fees — and the presence of a hundred members.


Now then, if the League hadn't lost over $13,000.000.00 over the past two years (that's more than half the amount the League netted for the sale of its air rights), perhaps one would say: "You win some. You lose some." But, much like the Wall Street folks: "You just keep losing." Despite the loss of those big bucks — this year the League's salaries have increased by close to $200,000.00. And it appears that the huge expenditure for credit card and petty cash have been listed (no doubt unintentionally), under "miscellaneous expenses"

The League is supposed to be a not for profit organization. Well, although it's losing money — which makes it not-for-profit — it's giving increases to its obviously non-productive, apparently incompetent money managers and administration — much like Wall Street's bankers.

Nevertheless, SKUNK finds no fault in the increase in compensation for the Artist teachers: their compensation has never been excessive.


At the first nomination meeting, The Director bragged about his enticing a degree-granting school(s) to send students to the League to learn how to draw. [Wow! This is what America's once-most-important art school and organization has been reduced to.]

When questioned by SKUNK —— if those college students would be given grades — the director stated emphatically, that no grades would be given — but then backed off — inferring that the artist-instructor would be expected to "comment" on the student's work. If this is true — it would lead to the ultimate destruction of the League: in its becoming a second grade art school.

Artists — by their very nature are non-conformists. One only has to look back at an artist like Jackson Polack, who studied at the League with Thomas Hart Benton to realize how ludicrous the very idea of granting any sort of grades, whatsoever, would be.

Jackson Polack's work, which he did while attending Thomas Hart Benton's class at the League, was at best so-so. And, although Polack was known to have attempted to keep in touch with Benton — the writer recalls that Benton, when receiving a tribute at the National Arts Club, stated that he was annoyed by those calls — and inferred that he had little or no memory of Polack — when he was at the League.

Had Benton given a grade for Polack's work — it may very well have caused Polack to forget about ever trying to be an artist — and never be bedded and promoted by Peggy Guggenheim — which ultimately led to his being considered one of America's great creative geniuses.

Markand Thakar Portrait
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All not-for-profit organizations, which the League and the American Fine Arts Society (which the League owns, and was involved in the sale of the League's air-rights) do rightfully claim to be —— must file an IRS Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. And, it must be made available, upon request, to the public — which includes the entire membership. That is the law!