Report Claims Outgoing Israel Museum Director Received ‘Double Pay’ for Years

He stepped down, but will keep his ties with fundraising organizations.

James Snyder. Courtesy The Israel Museum

An investigative report by the independent Israeli news blog Ha-Makom claimed that outgoing Israel Museum director, James Snyder, who announced in 2016 that he’d be stepping down this year after 20 years in the head role, has received what it calls a “double salary” for years—one from the museum in Jerusalem, and another from the non-profit organization American Friends of Israel Museum (AFIM).

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the largest national museum in Israel with a collection of more than 500,000 artworks and artifacts. Snyder received an annual salary of between NIS 333,000 – 343,000 (approximately $88,000 – $90,000) from the government-funded institution.

However, in addition to the regulated pay, according to the story, Snyder also reportedly received a total of $8.3 million, between 2010-2015, from AFIM, a New York-based organization that is the museum’s leading donating body. The blog reportedly found this by looking at tax returns of AFIM for those years. Looking at the tax documents available online on the AFIM website, artnet News was only able to corroborate amounts for the years 2012-2015. On the tax returns for those years, on Schedule G, it states that Snyder was paid, for fundraising activities, $1,447,524 for 2015, $1,429,293 for 2014, $1,000,152 for 2013, and $2,715,012 for 2012.

To be fair, those numbers are not unheard of for museum directors of his stature. In 2013, Glenn Lowry received a pay package of $2.1 million, which included a salary of $739,620 along with an annual bonus, retirement and deferred pay, as well as benefits. In 2012, the Metropolitan Museum of Art compensated director Thomas Campbell $1.2 million in salary and benefits.

At a meeting of the museum’s board of directors this past September, it surfaced that the institution’s auditor had received an anonymous tip regarding payments made to Snyder by AFIM. The meeting’s protocol shows that the museum concluded that AFIM was a separate body and therefore the museum was not in a position to interfere.

Despite this conclusion, several board members expressed their outrage over the findings with a number of members insisting that the museum must end their work relations with Snyder, according to the report.

According to page 12 of the protocol, one board member said that the director of wages asked to further investigate the matter, and had announced his intention to involve the state attorney’s office. He argued, the concealment of the details of Snyder’s agreement with AFIM—which were not made available to the board members—constitutes a breach of trust.

However, in an announcement by The Israel Museum earlier this month regarding Snyder’s successor Eran Neuman, the museum also specified that Snyder will continue his ties with the institution’s global fund-raising organizations in the newly created role of international president.

The museum released an official comment in reply to Ha-Makom’s request, saying:

AFIM is not subject to the museum and the museum does not have any effect on its operations; it is a separate and independent body and all the payments in question, if any were indeed made, are not related to the museum or its budget. From the very start of Mr. Snyder’s work at the museum some 20 years ago, the Supervisor of Wages has permitted for the outgoing director to also receive a salary from AFIM.

Snyder also contacted the news blog, with a statement which appears on the site in Hebrew. Parts of his statement are translated here by artnet News:

Before addressing the slanderous claims and false accusations, it is worth remembering one important fact: Mr. James Snyder recruited in 20 years as director of the Israel Museum more than 2.8 billion NIS [over $730 million], which was transferred in full to benefit the Israel Museum through AFIM.

Despite the grave global economic crisis of 2008, Mr. Snyder was able to raise $100 million for the museum’s renovation, which was completed successfully while meeting deadlines and budget. […]

Mr. Snyder worked for the Israel Museum and for AFIM, and accordingly, his salary was paid from both of these sources. Director of Wages at the Finance Ministry, confirmed the outline of this deal.

Meanwhile, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has also picked up the story.

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