Getty chief quits amid 'lifestyle' row

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The Getty Trust - the world's richest art foundation under fire for the suspect provenance of dozens of its Greek and Roman antiquities - was thrown into renewed turmoil yesterday when its chief executive abruptly resigned rather than face further investigation of his lavish personal spending habits.

Barry Munitz, once derided by a senate committee chairman for emulating television's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, instead of protecting the Gettys' assets, agreed to leave his post after eight years without severance or other benefits. He said he would pay back $250,000 (£143,000) - described as the "ballpark" figure under scrutiny by investigators from the California attorney general's office.

"I'm taking this action, after lengthy consideration," he said in a statement, "so both the institution and I can move forward."