Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Getty Trust Leads Group of Foundations Acquiring Ebony Archives for $30M: The 70-Year Archive, Johnson Publishing's Most Valuable Remaining Asset, Was Auctioned off as Part of Bankruptcy Proceeding and Will Be Donated to Museums, the Foundations Said

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Getty Trust Leads Group of Foundations Acquiring Ebony Archives for $30M: The 70-Year Archive, Johnson Publishing's Most Valuable Remaining Asset, Was Auctioned off as Part of Bankruptcy Proceeding and Will Be Donated to Museums, the Foundations Said

Article excerpt

A group of private foundations led by the J. Paul Getty Trust is set to purchase the complete photography archive of Johnson Publishing--which comprises some 983,000 photographs and 3.35 million unprocessed negatives from Ebony and Jet magazines dating back to 1948--after submitting a winning $30 million bid at a bankruptcy auction in Chicago on Wednesday morning.

Johnson, which sold Ebony and Jet to the private equity firm Clear View Group in 2016 after seven decades of ownership, had sought to sell off the archive, its most valuable remaining asset, in order to satisfy outstanding debts after filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April.

In addition to the Getty Trust--which operates a pair of art museums in Los Angeles and claimed a total endowment of $7.3 billion as of 2018--the purchasing group includes the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In a joint statement put out Thursday afternoon, the foundations pledged to donate the archives to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and "other leading cultural institutions for the public benefit and to ensure the broadest access for the general public and use by scholars, researchers, journalists and other interested parties."

After an initial auction held on July 17 yielded a winning bid of just $12.8 million, the deadline was extended to Wednesday morning after a "truly remarkable" level of interest from multiple parties, according to Chapter 7 trustee Miriam Stein, with the sale price eventually arriving at $28. …

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