In San Francisco, city Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced legislation Tuesday to landmark the San Francisco Art Institute’s massive Diego Rivera mural worth an estimated $50 million following reports that it could sold, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
Mission Local first reported that SFAI's Depression-era mural celebrating art and labor, “The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City,” painted in 1931 by Rivera, may be sold to help solve the art school's financial issues, a possibility that has "outraged" some alumni and faculty, writes Zachary Small in the New York Times.
The Regents of the University of California bought the 149-year-old art school’s $19.7 million debt in October, becoming its landlord, as SFAI faced foreclosure. The renowned art school has financially struggled after an expansion in Fort Mason, coupled with declining enrollment and pandemic-related impacts.
“It should be our prerogative to ensure that these Diego Rivera murals remain at the 800 Chestnut facilities and remain open to the public,” Peskin said at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. “There’s a legal argument that the existing design for 800 Chestnut St. would subject the murals to landmark designation, there’s some legal question around that.”
The New York Times reported that the filmmaker George Lucas was interested in buying the mural for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. Another possibility reportedly discussed was that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art would take ownership of the mural but leave it on the SFAI campus as an annexed space, according to the Times.