Investors led by Laurene Powell Jobs are trying to buy a former San Francisco Art Institute building that houses a Diego Rivera mural for $50 million.

The school declared bankruptcy earlier this year after financial struggles and a failed attempt to sell the mural, which is now a landmark.

Diego Rivera mural at the San Francisco Art Institute. Courtesy of the San Francisco Art Institute.

In what could be a sign of new life for the now-shuttered San Francisco Art Institute, a group of investors and advocates Led by billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell, Jobs made a bid to buy one of the bankrupt school’s former campus buildings.

The institute’s Russian Hill campus, which features views of the bay and a historic — and highly valuable — Diego Rivera mural, was the subject of a presentation by the nine-member group, according to local news reports. The offer price or terms were not disclosed.

David Stoll, president and CEO of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) and a member of the group, said, San Francisco Chronicle They have been working on a plan to purchase the campus for the past four months. “It’s in its infancy but it’s very exciting,” he told the newspaper, adding that the art institute would remain an “educational centre,” although it was not clear in what capacity.

“We work to maintain an art institute for aspiring artists to develop their work,” Stoll said. “It will also serve as a resource for established artists to come together as well as a hub for the community and the arts.”

Laurene Powell Jobs speaks during the New York Times DealBook Conference on November 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)

A representative of the advisory group declined to comment to Artnet News. “SFCM President David Stull is one of many volunteer advisors within the San Francisco arts community and supports reimagining the future of the Art Institute,” a representative for Stull told Artnet News via email.

Notably, the proposed acquisition does not include the institute’s graduate campus at the Fort Mason Arts and Cultural Center, which underwent what was widely viewed as an “ill-timed” expansion and renovation that cost the institute about $15 million and was expensive. It was completed in 2017. The building closed in 2020 and the institute was evicted for non-payment of rent in 2022.

San Francisco Conservatory of Music President and CEO David Stoll. Image via SFCM.

The acquisition of the Russian Hill building will likely preserve and include the Diego Rivera mural He made a mural showing the construction of the cityIt was painted on its walls in 1931. The artwork was declared a city landmark in 2021.

The institute filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April, after years of struggling under the burden of debt. The move requires the more than 150-year-old school to liquidate its assets.

While among the school’s assets are some moderately priced artworks, the real treasure is Rivera’s mural, which is valued at up to $50 million.

According to the Chronicle, rumors of a potential campus deal have been circulating on the local art scene recently. This possibility became more likely at the recent meeting of the San Francisco City and County Board of Supervisors when Board Chairman Aaron Peskin introduced legislation to remove the requirement that a campus be served only by an academic institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Peskin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Any sale of real estate is supposed to be approved by the authorities and trustees supervising the liquidation process and sorting out the hierarchy of creditors’ claims. Lawyers overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings did not respond to a request for comment.

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