City Helps Save San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum from Debt Crisis

Toward the middle of November, it looked as though San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum was joining so many other cash-strapped, heavily in debt museums like it that have closed over the past couple of years and was breathing its last breaths. Facing not just bankruptcy but possible closure as well, the museum was finding that it was going to have a difficult time paying back the $120 million in loans it had borrowed over the past five years. Now it appears that they’ve managed to turn things around, working with their banks to restructure the debt and forming an agreement with San Francisco’s government to make sure things stay on the up and up. Here are the specifics:

Mayor Gavin Newsom, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, City Controller Ben Rosenfield, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and the Asian Art Museum Foundation, the private fundraising arm of the Asian Art Museum, today announced a proposal to restructure the Foundation’s $120 million bond debt. The five-party proposed agreement, coordinated by City Attorney Herrera, City Controller Ben Rosenfield, and City Public Finance Director Nadia Sesay with participation from the Foundation and its creditors, JP Morgan Chase and MBIA, Inc., provides long term stable financing to the Foundation, allowing the organization to continue to raise the funds necessary to support the Museum’s dynamic range of exhibitions and programs. The proposal will now be submitted to the Board of Supervisors, Asian Art Commission and Asian Art Museum Foundation for their consideration.