Investors Trying to Acquire Ex San Francisco Art Institute Building

Investors Led by Laurene Powell Jobs Are Trying to Buy a Former San Francisco Art Institute Building That Houses a $50 Million Diego Rivera Mural.

Sep 13, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
San Francisco Art Institute investors
San Francisco Art Institute. Wikipedia


Investors are working on requiring a former San Francisco Art Institute building. San Francisco Art Institute was one of the oldest American art institutions before it filed for bankruptcy. Billionaire Laurene Powell is a dot connecting other investors, which want to acquire former campus objects. The former art institute is famous for housing Diego Rivera mural.


Investors to Buy Russian Hill Campus

Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera’s mural at the San Francisco Art Institute. Courtesy of the San Francisco Art Institute.


After bankruptcy, this can be a sign of a new life for this historically important art institution. The main focus is on the institute’s Russian Hill campus, which is where the Rivera mural is. Although negotiations are ongoing, the offered price is not yet known to the public. That will probably be the case until parties reach the final agreement. David Stull, president and CEO of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) and of the investors spoke about his intentions.


“We are working on a plan to buy the campus for the past four months. It is in its nascent stage but tremendously exciting. The Art Institute would remain an educational center”, he said. But, even though he said the center will stick to its educational role, it was not clear in what capacity. “We are working to see that the Art Institute is preserved for aspiring artists to advance their work”, Stull said.


San Francisco Art Institute investors
San Francisco Art Institute. Wikipedia


He also added: “It will also serve as a resource for established artists to come together as well as a center for community and the arts”. Stull’s representative also spoke to the press. “SFCM President David Stull is one of several volunteer advisors within the arts community in San Francisco and supports the reimagination of the future of the institute of art”, representative stated.

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The Rivera Mural – Most Significant Artwork

NOVEMBER 09:  Laurene Powell Jobs, investors
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 09: Laurene Powell Jobs speaks onstage during The New York Times 2017 DealBook Conference at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times)


Importantly, the institution’s graduate campus at Fort Mason Centre for Arts and Culture is not included in its purchase proposal. It suffered a $15 million addition and makeover that was largely regarded as being “ill-timed” in 2017 and cost the Institute. In 2020 demolition followed and the Institute also ended in 2022 for not paying the rent. An acquisition of the Russian Hill building would potentially preserve and include the Diego Rivera mural.


The name of the mural is “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City”, painted in 1931. The mural became city landmark in 2021. According to this, the only way to sell the mural is if the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approves it.


David Stull
San Francsico Conservatory of Music president and CEO David Stull. Photo via SFCM.


The Rivera mural, which has been valued as much as $50 million, is the main gem, but the school also contains some more affordable artwork. Any real estate transaction would likely require approval from the authorities and trustees in charge of directing the liquidation process and arranging the priority of creditors’ claims. When contacted for comment, the lawyers in charge of the bankruptcy procedure did not provide any.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.