Interesting Twist on Public-Private Partnerships
But first some background…
Growing up as I did in Philadelphia, the American painter, Thomas Eakins, held an iconic allure for me. He was a native of the city, and painted with a controversial style (at the time) that conveyed in graphic detail the lives and events of everyday people, as well as such notables as Walt Whitman. His life was no less controversial than his work.
One of his works, The Gross Clinic, was recently sold by the Thomas Jefferson University for $68 million to an heir to the Walton fortune – Sam Walton’s daughter, Alice – for her new museum in Arkansas. The painting was originally purchased by the medical college's alumni for $200 after it was derided in a juried show as being too graphic. The sale was also controversial, coming on the heels of Ms Walton’s purchase of an important painting hanging (or that was hanging) in the New York Public Library.
The terms of this particular sale allowed for the City of Philadelphia to match that sale price in order to keep the masterpiece from being relocated to Arkansas. But the movers and shakers in Philadelphia were given less than two months to come up with those matching funds. A tall order as anyone who has been in the fundraising world certainly knows.
And here is where the interesting partnership comes in. After some major local donors chipped in about $20 million, and another 2,000 or so contributed $10 million more, a Charlottesville, NC bank (Wachovia) offered to guarantee a bridge loan, if needed, to offset any short-fall by the deadline.
So, the city will keep its historically important painting and the medical college will have $68 million to add to its capital campaign. The only apparent loser in this seems to be an Arkansas heiress. The full story is here and here.
I’m wondering how common such loans are in the philanthropic world. Does anyone in our community know of other deals such as this where a financial institution steps in to guarantee the results of a fundraising campaign?