I write this letter as counsel to the Board of Directors of Occidental Petroleum Corp. in response to "Occidental, Not Hammer's Foundation, Purchased Art" (Part I, Aug. 18).
You imply that Dr. (Armand) Hammer somehow unjustly benefits from his own philanthropy. This is wrong. Occidental and Dr. Hammer have a long-established history of promoting artistic and cultural endeavors.
For years, Dr. Hammer and the Armand Hammer Foundation have loaned priceless masterpieces the world over, generating enormous good will to Occidental's benefit. Last year, Occidental decided that this good will could be perpetuated by establishing and funding an art museum and cultural center adjoining Occidental's headquarters in Westwood Village. Accordingly, an independent special committee of Occidental's board of directors unanimously voted to make a one-time charitable contribution for this purpose. The building housing the museum will be named the "Occidental Petroleum Cultural Center Building." The museum will be named for Occidental's chief executive officer and founder, Dr. Armand Hammer, who has contractually agreed to transfer to the museum all his art works, appraised at over $400 million.
Some have incorrectly asserted that Dr. Hammer did not pay for the art that he and the Armand Hammer Foundation will donate to the museum.