By 2009, the British archaeologist Colin Renfrew, a leading critic of museums harboring ancient works of questionable origin, praised the Getty as a model for others, based on policies it had adopted to ensure that it would forgo acquisitions whose provenance was in doubt.
But Wood's tenure became rocky. The Getty relies almost exclusively on its investment returns to fund operations, and the market meltdown in 2008-09 saw its endowment plummet 24%. Wood instituted severe staff reductions and executive pay cuts, saying that to do otherwise in a poor economy would put the Getty at risk of a "fall off a huge cliff."
He already had begun restructuring the Getty's spending priorities, and a dispute over who would control funds for art purchases was one source of friction between Wood and Brand, who resigned suddenly in January. Brand had been popular with museum staff, and some employees began venting their frustration on an anonymous blog. Some complained that Wood wasn't receptive enough to staff members' ideas — a notion he disputed.
In late April, Wood said the Getty's investments had bounced back enough to increase the trust's operating budget from $216 million to $245 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Wood said he was confident that a search for a new museum director that he launched in February would bring highly qualified candidates, despite the Getty's unusual setup that makes the museum director a subordinate of the trust president, rather than the top executive.