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Almost a year after declaring bankruptcy, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), and the famed multi-million-dollar Diego Rivera mural gracing one of its walls, has been sold to a nonprofit led by the philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

The troubled art school filed for bankruptcy in April 2023 with $20m in debt, prompting speculation about the Russian Hill neighborhood mainstay’s next chapter and the fate of its crown jewel, Rivera’s $50m The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931). The nonprofit purchased both the campus and the mural for about $30m.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the nonprofit will take care of maintenance issues on SFAI’s buildings in the next four years with the intention of keeping the campus an arts institution. Plans for a potential artist-in-residence programme are also in the works. SFAI alumni include the photographer Annie Leibovitz and the painter Kehinde Wiley.

Art schools

Former San Francisco Art Institute campus may house a future new art school

“We’re energised by the tremendous community support we’ve seen for restoring the site, keeping the mural in place and reopening as a nonprofit arts institution that will bring in a dynamic new generation of artists,” Brenda Way, the founder and artistic director of San Francisco’s ODC Theater and a member of the nascent nonprofit’s advisory committee, said in a statement to the Chronicle. “We’re building on a brilliant cultural history and looking towards a boundless artistic future, one that will affect and be affected by the vibrant culture of San Francisco.”

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