National Museum of American Jewish History buys back bankruptcy building with gift from Stuart Weitzman


(JTA) – Shoe entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman came to the rescue of the financially struggling National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia.

The museum had accumulated $ 30 million in construction debt and lost ownership of its new building, coming out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September. Now, a donation from Weitzman will allow the museum to buy back the building and establish an “eight-figure” endowment, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday.

The institution is renamed the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History.

Museum CEO Misha Galperin announced the news on Tuesday in a item for eJewishPhilanthropy. The Inquirer interviewed Galperin, who declined to share the exact amount of the donation, but said he was providing more than half of the funds needed for an upcoming capital and endowment fundraising campaign.

“I can tell you [the Weitzman gift] allowed us to buy our building immediately and build an eight-figure endowment, ”Galperin told the Inquirer. ” That’s all I can say. It is very significant and it deserves the name of… museum. It really secures our future.

When the museum filed on how to file bankruptcy in March 2020, it owed bondholders $ 30 million over costs associated with a recent $ 150 million construction project.

The museum was able to emerge from bankruptcy in mid-September 2021 after bondholders forgave nearly $ 14 million in debt and the family of business executive Mitchell Morgan agreed to purchase the building. from the museum for $ 10 million and rent it for $ 1,000 per month.

“The Morgan family has also given us the option to repurchase the building at any time over the next 42 months,” Galperin told the Inquirer. “The Weitzman donation will allow us to immediately buy the building from the Morgan family.

This is not the first time Weitzman has donated to the museum. In 2018, he donated $ 1 million to create the First Families Gallery, which focuses on the lives of the early Jewish settlers of colonial America.

Weitzman made his fortune as a pioneering shoe designer. The company he founded was acquired by luxury design brand Coach in a $ 574 million deal in 2015. His wife, Jane Gerson Weitzman, is a member of the board of directors of 70 Faces Media, the nonprofit association that operates the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

Closed to visitors since the pandemic lockdowns, the museum has built its virtual platform, with six online exhibits and dozens of programs. In the past 20 months, four million people have participated in the museum’s activities, according to Galperin.


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