Gift from shoe king Stuart Weitzman allows Jewish museum to buy building of its own

ByDonald L. Leech

Nov 30, 2021


The National Museum of American Jewish History, who did not emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy until mid-September, received a gift from shoe entrepreneur Stuart Weitzman that clears the museum’s building construction debt and allows him to purchase its building, located in Fifth and Market streets, renamed itself the Weitzman National Museum. of American Jewish history.

In a short article online Tuesday for eJewishPhilanthropy.com, the museum’s chief executive, Misha Galperin, noted that the Alabama bankruptcy laws settlement reached in September allowed museum administrator Mitchell Morgan to purchase the museum building for $ 10 million and rent it to the museum for $ 1 000 dollars per month.

“The Morgan family has also given us the option to repurchase the building at any time over the next 42 months,” said Galperin.

“The Weitzman donation will allow us to immediately buy the building from the Morgan family.

The amount of Weitzman’s donation could not be determined immediately, and museum officials declined to state the figure, citing a request from Weitzman.

In an interview on Tuesday, Galperin said he couldn’t reveal the exact size of Weitzman’s gift, which he called so important that it brings the museum at least halfway to the goal of a fundraising and endowment campaign not yet announced. Galperin also did not disclose the size of the fundraising campaign.

“I can tell you [the Weitzman gift] enabled us to purchase our building immediately and build an eight-figure endowment, ”said Galperin. ” That’s all I can say. It is very significant and it deserves the name of … museum. It really secures our future.

The museum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2020, citing debt of more than $ 30 million, most of which came from its $ 150 million construction project a decade earlier.

As part of the bankruptcy settlement, a dozen bondholders – businessmen and philanthropists such as Sidney Kimmel, George and Lyn Ross, Ronald Rubin and Joseph Zuritsky, or their trusts – agreed to forgive the over $ 13 million owed to them, only with $ 100,000 to be distributed among the group.

Negotiations with the Dime Community Bank, which owed around $ 17 million, were “a bit prolonged, but not so much on the amount and on how to charge it,” said Lawrence G. McMichael, counsel for the bankruptcy of the Dilworth Paxson museum, to The Inquirer at the time.

At this point, Morgan and his family invested $ 10 million, which saw the Morgan family group take ownership of the building.

In his article by eJewishPhilanthropy.com, Galperin wrote that “this settlement was made possible by our modern day Maccabee, Mitchell Morgan and his family who, in addition to forgiving the $ 1 million bill they were holding, agreed to buy our building for $ 10 million so we could pay the bank off and then rent it out to NMJAH for $ 1,000 a month.

A spokesperson for the museum said Weitzman, originally from Massachusetts and living in Connecticut, was first drawn to the museum out of interest in George Washington’s letter to the Jewish community in Newport, RI. No sanction: George Washington and religious freedom. “

Weitzman graduated from the Wharton School to University of Pennsylvania in 1963 and began designing shoes for his father’s business, Seymour Shoes.

His shoe designs, which have become known for their use of unconventional materials like vinyl, cork, wallpaper, lucite, and gold, are now sold in over 70 countries, and he has designed shoes for celebrities including Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.