Nonprofit Led by Steve Jobs’s Widow Acquires SF Art Institute for $30M

Less than a year after the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) declared bankruptcy and shuttered its doors, a new nonprofit led by philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, has purchased the campus complete with its iconic 1931 mural by Diego Rivera.

The 152-year-old institution that boasted alumni such as Kehinde Wiley, Annie Leibovitz, Kathryn Bigelow, and Stephanie Syjuco faced significant financial ailments and declining enrollments through its final years, while generating millions of dollars in debt. The school expanded its campus in 2017 but subsequently closed the satellite location in 2020 amid the initial quarantine restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That year, the school decided to cancel admissions and lay off over 60 faculty members, and later considered selling Rivera’s “The Making of a Fresco, Showing The Building of a City” to stay afloat — drawing immense criticism. The school matriculated its final Class of 2022, and subsequently ceased its educational operations after a failed merger with the University of San Francisco.

Powell Jobs, alongside Oberlin Dance Company Founder Brenda Way and San Francisco Music Conservatory President David Stull, showed interest in reviving the campus as an arts institution last September, only months after the institution closed its doors and began liquidating its assets.

The $30 million deal that included the mural closed last Thursday, February 29, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Powell Jobs, who provided the endowment through funds from her philanthropy and investments group Emerson Collective, and her advisory committee intend on restoring and renovating the property so it could continue to serve as an arts institution and are exploring opportunities for an artist-in-residence program that would provide housing onsite.

The mural is expected to remain in place in its viewing room with additional restoration efforts.

Neither Emerson Collective nor the SFAI Legacy Foundation and Archive responded to Hyperallergic‘s requests for comment.

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