Ryan Kavanaugh has stepped down as Art of Elysium’s chairman of the board of directors and been replaced by billionaire oil tycoon Timothy Headington.
Art of Elysium — the 18-year-old nonprofit founded by Jennifer Howell and focused on bringing art and music to children and other underserved populations — announced the news, also revealing that The Hangover star Justin Bartha has joined the board of directors.
Kavanaugh sent a letter on Dec. 1 notifying the organization of his resignation, which becomes effective on Jan. 1. He will segue to a chairman emeritus role.
Headington serves as CEO of Dallas-based Headington Companies, which has interests in oil and natural gas, real estate, hotel development, film production, entertainment and private equity. Headington also co-founded the Headington Institute, a Pasadena-based nonprofit dedicated to psychological support for first responders and caregivers. His film credits include such titles as Tomb Raider, Delirium, Jersey Boys, World War Z, Argo, Dark Shadows and The Rum Diary.
The appointment comes as Kavanaugh’s Relativity continues to sort out its financial dealings in the wake of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing over the summer. Around the time, there were loud whispers that the executive also owed a substantial amount of money to Art of Elysium, funds he had committed to donate over the course of several years during his involvement with the charity. He was named chairman of the board in 2009.
“Relativity strongly disputes these unsubstantiated allegations,” a company spokesperson tells THR.
In his letter to Art of Elysium, Kavanaugh noted that he is “honored” to accept his new role, one that will allow him to focus on the activities of his own foundation. “It has been a true pleasure to partner with you and the organization over so many years, and I look forward to continuing to be actively involved,” he wrote. “As you know, both Relativity and I personally have raised millions of dollars to support the incredibly important work The Art of Elysium does to enrich the lives of artists and critically ill children in our community.”
Howell praised Kavanaugh in a statement to THR, calling him the “largest individual donor” for her charity. “Additionally, Relativity Media has been our largest sponsor and has sponsored more events and initiatives for The Art of Elysium than any other company. To say that I am grateful for this support, is a gross understatement. Since 2009, Ryan and Relativity have given us the resources and support to grow in ways that we would have otherwise been unable,” she said.
She also noted Headington’s experience in joining the board. “Tim’s generous philanthropic pursuits are deep and varied, and we are incredibly humbled by his decision to join our board of directors as its newest chairman,” Howell said.
Headington and Bartha join Art of Elysium’s full board of directors that includes Sarah Adolphson of WME, Ken Coehlo of Armanino LLP, Bill Harrison of Third Street Media Group, Christopher King of Cruzuch Inc., Matt Meza of Halling | Meza LLP and Lauren and Ragan O’Reilly.