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SF Art Institute May Sell 1931 Diego Rivera Mural

Valued at $50 million, historic mural might be sold by 150-year-old school trying to stay afloat
By - posted 1/8/2021 No Comment

Thanks to artforum for letting us know that the cash-strapped San Francisco Art Institute is exploring selling its iconic 1931 Diego Rivera mural The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City.

The mural was commissioned by SFAI President William Gerstle (1930–1931), and was completed by Rivera in the course of one month, from May 1–May 31, 1931. The mural occupies a central wall in the Diego Rivera Gallery—a contemporary exhibition space for new projects by SFAI artists.

Reportedly, Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas has expressed interest in purchasing the art work which is estimated to have a value of around $50 million.

No decision has been made yet, but SFAI officials say selling the mural could save the school pay off debts and help make ends meet for an annual operating budget of about $19 million.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced legislation on Tuesday to landmark the mural to try to protect it.

UPDATE: On Wednesday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the SFAI’s board chair said the instituted is not “strongly pushing” the sale, but acknowledged the 150-year-old school faces massive financial challenges.

Read more at artforum and The New York Times.