Gift from shoe king Stuart Weitzman allows Jewish museum to buy building of its own


The National Museum of American Jewish History, which did not emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy until mid-September, received a gift from shoe entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman that clears the museum’s construction debt of buildings and allows him to buy his building, at Fifth Street and Market Street. , renaming itself the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History.

In a brief online article published Tuesday for eJewishPhilanthropy.com, the museum’s chief executive, Misha Galperin, noted that the bankruptcy settlement reached in September allowed museum trustee Mitchell Morgan to purchase the museum building for $ 10million. dollars and rent it from the museum for $ 1,000 a month.

“The Morgan family has also given us the option to repurchase the building at any time over the next 42 months,” said Galperin.

“The Weitzman donation will allow us to immediately buy the building from the Morgan family.

The amount of Weitzman’s donation could not be determined immediately, and museum officials declined to state the figure, citing a request from Weitzman.

In an interview on Tuesday, Galperin said he couldn’t reveal the exact size of Weitzman’s gift, which he called so important that it brings the museum at least halfway to the goal of a fundraising and endowment campaign not yet announced. Galperin also did not disclose the size of the fundraising campaign.

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

The museum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020, citing debt of more than $ 30 million, most of which came from its $ 150 million construction project a decade earlier.

As part of the bankruptcy settlement, a dozen bondholders – businessmen and philanthropists such as Sidney Kimmel, George and Lyn Ross, Ronald Rubin and Joseph Zuritsky, or their trusts – agreed to forgive the over $ 13 million owed to them, only with $ 100,000 to be distributed among the group.

Negotiations with the Dime Community Bank, which owed about $ 17 million, were “a bit prolonged, but not so much on the amount as on how to charge it,” said Lawrence G. McMichael, lawyer for the bankruptcy of the Dilworth Paxson museum, to The Inquirer at the time.

At this point, Morgan and his family invested $ 10 million, which allowed the Morgan family group to take ownership of the building.

In his article in eJewishPhilanthropy.com, Galperin wrote that “this settlement was made possible by our modern day Maccabee, Mitchell Morgan and his family who in addition to forgiving the $ 1 million bill they were holding, agreed to buy our building for $ 10. millions so that we could pay off the bank and then rent it out to NMJAH for $ 1,000 a month.

A spokesperson for the museum said Weitzman, originally from Massachusetts and living in Connecticut, was first drawn to the museum out of interest in George Washington’s letter to the Jewish community in Newport, RI. No sanction: George Washington and religious freedom. “

Weitzman graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1963 and began designing shoes for his father’s company, Seymour Shoes.

His shoe designs, which have become known for their use of unconventional materials like vinyl, cork, wallpaper, lucite, and gold, are now sold in over 70 countries, and he has designed shoes for celebrities including Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.

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