Barry Munitz, the embattled president and chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust resigned his post late Thursday, effective immediately.

In a letter to the board of directors of the Getty Trust, Munitz said, "Presiding over the Getty has been challenging, exciting and at times difficult." He said he was resigning "so both the institution and I can move forward"

He also said he would receive no severance package and, without admitting wrongdoing, would "pay the Getty Trust $250,000 to resolve any continuing disputes with him," according to a press release issued Thursday afternoon from the Getty Trust board.

Getty Foundation director, Deborah Marrow, has been named interim president while the museum launches a search for a permanent replacement, according to Getty Trust spokesman Ron Hartwig.

Munitz' resignation comes amidst a time of turmoil for the $7 billion Getty Trust and the Getty Center and Getty Villa museums that it administers.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that Munitz had made lavish expenditures using Getty funds, including first class travel arrangements and a Porsche sports utility vehicle for his personal use. In December, the Council on Foundations placed the Getty Trust under review for failing to provide documentation on Munitz' expenditures. The scandal even attracted the attention of Congress, which has been reviewing nonprofit finances.

Meanwhile, the Getty Museum's former curator of antiquities, Marion True, is on trial in Rome, accused of accepting artifacts for the Getty museums that were looted from Italian sites. That case is being viewed as a landmark in the world of antiquities artifacts transactions.

Munitz' letter makes no reference to this scandal. Instead, he said that he felt the time was right for him to depart, just weeks after the Getty Villa reopened in Malibu after an eight-year renovation.

Munitz joined the Getty Trust in 1996 after serving as Chancellor of the California State University system. He said in his resignation letter Thursday that he now plans to "pursue new educational opportunities."

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