August 8, 2022
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In June, the shoe designer and entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman sold the world’s most expensive coin, the world’s most costly postage stamp and a block of 4 stamps with — oops! — the airplane printed the other way up, all for greater than $32 million.

In November, he determined what to do with the cash. He’s giving all of his proceeds to the National Museum of American Jewish History, a Smithsonian-affiliated establishment in Philadelphia that not too long ago emerged from chapter.

For the museum — whose assortment contains the piano on which Irving Berlin wrote “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and certainly one of Albert Einstein’s pipes — Weitzman’s cash is greater than a lifeline. The museum will spend $10 million to purchase its constructing, which had been bought to a former trustee’s household and leased again for $1,000 a month.

The remaining will go towards an endowment. Weitzman mentioned the end result can be that the museum might function “debt-free and rent-free, so the whole lot it pays consideration to will likely be for itself and never for making an attempt to remain afloat.”

The museum is responding by altering its identify to the Weitzman Nationwide Museum of American Jewish History. It should make the brand new identify official on Monday, the final day of Hanukkah, though Misha Galperin, the museum’s chief govt, shared the information early in a put up on the eJewish Philanthropy website.

Weitzman, who turned 80 in July, mentioned earlier than the public sale that he deliberate to present away the proceeds. He described the sale as a type of property planning, unloading one-of-a-kind gadgets he had collected over 20 years that he believed would have enduring worth. However he mentioned his youngsters didn’t need to inherit them and, as he put it, “Nobody takes a U-Haul to the cemetery.”

The museum had been preoccupied with monetary issues for the previous decade — because it accomplished its $150 million building on Independence Mall, a brief stroll from Independence Corridor and the Liberty Bell Center. For the five-story constructing, the museum took out a $35 million building mortgage, Galperin mentioned. The museum had counted on fund-raising to pay it off, he mentioned, however because the monetary disaster of 2008 deepened, donations slowed.

“For the subsequent 10 years, they have been servicing that debt, working out of money,” mentioned Galperin, who was introduced in as a guide in 2019 and have become chief govt final 12 months. “The museum was in severe monetary hassle.”

Roughly $30 million in debt at the start of 2020, it filed for chapter on March 1, earlier than the pandemic hit. Then the museum closed down. “No income,” he mentioned, “and since we have been in chapter, we weren’t eligible for federal help below PPP,” the federal paycheck safety program. The museum laid off 25 staff, two-thirds of its employees.

It emerged from chapter in September with a plan that primarily eradicated the debt. Some $17 million was owed to banks. That quantity was diminished to $10.5 million after negotiations and was paid off by the deal for the constructing and a few donations. One other $14 million was owed to a gaggle of present and previous supporters, amongst them the philanthropist Sidney Kimmel. Galperin mentioned they forgave that cash.

Galperin mentioned that Mitchell Morgan, whose household purchased the constructing and leased it again, had given the museum three and a half years to plot a long-term plan, a timeline that Galperin known as “sufficient of a runway to determine what to do subsequent.”

Weitzman was already acquainted with the museum earlier than Galperin approached him in September. Weitzman had donated $1 million in 2018 for a gallery about Jews who settled in American within the seventeenth century.

Weitzman mentioned Galperin was simple, mentioning what Weitzman had mentioned about freely giving the cash from the public sale. “He mentioned, ‘That is our aim. We would like our constructing again. We don’t need to get kicked out in a few years. We’d like somebody or some individuals to safe our future,’” Weitzman recalled. “And that’s what I did.”

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