Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, JP Morgan to Meet on Museum Bankruptcy

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After pressure from Bay Area elected leaders, JP Morgan has agreed to a meet tomorrow, Tuesday, with the Asian Art Museum and City of San Francisco leaders to lessen its financial grip on the museum, which is struggling under the fiscal burdens from the New York financial advisor and bond holder.

JP Morgan, which acts in many capacities to the Asian Art Museum, including its chief financial advisor, bond holder and other fiduciary duties, failed to take action Friday, Nov. 19, to extend a letter of credit, which would have provided some assurance that the museum could avoid bankruptcy. The JP Morgan credit expires Dec. 21 and unless a deal is worked out the expiration could result in the museum’s closure and some of its treasures being auctioned in the international marketplace, presumably by Christie’s (now handling the estate of Walter Shorenstein, a major collector of Asian Art and a benefactor of the Asian Art Museum) or Sotheby’s auction houses.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross reported today: “The San Francisco Asian Art Museum is vowing to keep its doors open, despite the absence of a deal to end a financial crisis that has threatened to send the Civic Center institution into bankruptcy.

“A letter of credit from lender JPMorgan Chase backing the museum’s $120 million loan is set to expire Dec. 21. If that happens, the Asian Art’s loan payments could skyrocket beyond the museum’s ability to pay and its insurer could be hit with tens of millions in losses.

“City officials plan to meet with all the parties this week to try to break the impasse.

“We are working to get this resolved,” Mark McLoughlin, the Asian Art’s chief finance and operating officer, said Friday. “The museum is not contemplating anything other than staying open for business and a vibrant future.”

“Let’s hope so,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle in today’s online edition.

Any deal is dependent upon JP Morgan loosening its grip and allowing the museum to restructure the burdensome debt created by JP Morgan’s own financial leadership of the museum.

Political, Asian leaders, as well as international interests, are watching to see how JP Morgan handles the restructuring of the museum’s debt.

See Related: San Francisco Asian Art Museum: Will JP Morgan Pull the Plug and Bankrupt Renowned Asian Culture and History Center for $120 Million?

See Related: ASIAN ARTS MUSEUM ARCHIVE

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SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY
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