Well, since it looks like this scandal at the deYoung involving Dede Wilsey won't be going away, I guess it's time she gets her own tag along the lines of Oh No, Ed Jew and the much shorter-lived Oh No, Leland Yee. As Matier & Ross are reporting now, state Attorney General Kamala Harris's office has in fact opened an inquiry into the matter of the reported $450,000 gift to a former employee Wilsey apparently never cleared with the board of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco something that could put the museums on shaky legal ground.
State investigators from the charitable trust division of Harris's office have opened an audit of the museums' books for last two years, which the museums' rep has confirmed, and an audit from city auditors may be coming next.
A new wrinkle in the story: It turns out that the ailing former employee involved in the questionable gift, Bill Huggins, is married to another museum staffer, Therese Chen, who was known to be something of a gal Friday for Wilsey, doing her frequent favors "including once driving a Matisse painting from the de Young to the socialite’s home for an event." Chen apparently had to take a leave of absence from her job as Director of Registration at the deYoung in order to care for Huggins following his 2014 heart attack, thus perhaps creating a financial need when Huggins himself had to retire.
As noted earlier, Huggins is collecting a $57,000 annual pension.
The May 2014 check was apparently written, according to museum officials, "under the recommendation” of recently fired finance director Michele Gutierrez, who earlier this year was demoted from CFO to finance director, and who perhaps thus had a bone to pick with Wilsey, and decided to blow the whistle about this payment which was characterized as "disability severance."
Some anonymous sources have also now told Matier & Ross that Gutierrez was actually one of two whistle-blowers, and a second unidentified museum staffer also sent a complaint in to the attorney general about the $450,000 check. Also, allegedly, the resignations of two museum board members last year came over this issue.
The museums' PR rep Amanda Duckworth is doing her best to make it sound like this state audit is "routine" and the museums are cooperating fully, saying it's "a routine correspondence audit that it carries out regularly with not-for-profit institutions.’’
This all may of course blow over, but it's the latest in a series of well publicized departures and firings on the deYoung staff, and the museum is still seeking a replacement for former director Colin Bailey who resigned in April after only two years in the job. He had been hired away from the Frick in New York, and opted to return directly there. Rumor has it that it was Wilsey with whom he butted heads.