San Francisco Art Institute is sold to a new nonprofit — along with the Diego Rivera mural inside


Roughly a year after declaring bankruptcy, the historic San Francisco Art Institute — home to a famed multimillion-dollar mural — has been sold to a new nonprofit led by philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs.

Faced with a debt of about $20 million, the beleaguered institute in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood filed for bankruptcy last April. The property was listed for sale in the summer, prompting questions over what would happen to the mural inside by the famed Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Many artists and city leaders had been adamant the mural stay where it is. San Francisco supervisors had gone so far as to designate the mural a landmark to prevent it from being removed.

This week, the nonprofit, made up of local arts leaders and philanthropists including Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, purchased the landmark campus for about $30 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The sale includes the mural.

In bankruptcy filings, the mural was valued at $50 million, making it the institute’s most valuable asset.

The nonprofit intends to keep the 93,000-square-foot campus as an arts institute and will start tackling a backlog of maintenance issues, which could take as much as four years, the Chronicle reported. The mural will remain in a viewing room.

The campus, constructed in 1926, includes two buildings, a bell tower, a courtyard, a library, classrooms and galleries. Notable alumni include photographer Annie Leibovitz and painter Kehinde Wiley.

The institute had commissioned Rivera in the early 1930s to paint the mural, which he intended to be a tribute to the industrial worker. The painting depicts engineers, artists and sculptors, creating both a fresco and a city. Rivera, who has three frescoes in San Francisco, can be spotted in the back of the 74-foot-wide painting, holding a brush and palette.


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