Mart Walker’s huge cartoon collection, long without a home, is again without a home, as the Stamford Advocate reports that a long-standing deal between the Walkers and the Empire State Building to open the National Cartoon Museum there has fallen apart:
The museum struggled to find a permanent home since it opened in Greenwich in 1974. A year later, it moved to a castle in Rye Brook, N.Y., but maintenance costs forced it out. It found its third home in Boca Raton, Fla., but eventually had to close after some of its backers went bankrupt.
Peter Malkin, a Greenwich real estate magnate who serves as chairman of the group that owns the Empire State Building, said yesterday he had been saving space for the museum, rent-free, for more than a year, and had been a supporter of bringing the comic art to the Big Apple. He said he had no choice but to put the 14,000-square-foot space back on the market when he saw construction had not begun.
“We had signed a lease, and under the lease they were supposed to go in and create the space for the museum and do work by a certain date,” Malkin said in a phone interview yesterday. “They were not able to proceed with that, and we extended the date several times. But it was necessary finally to terminate the arrangement because they had not been able to proceed with their program. We’re disappointed that it has not worked out as Mort had and we had hoped, but we just have to go forward with a more traditional, commercial use of the space.”
Walker tells a different story.
“They changed the deal on us,” he said last week. “They were going to sell our tickets when they sold tickets to the observation tower. We were going to split the ticket sales. They turned around and said they couldn’t do it. They put our rent at $650,000. We found that too difficult, so our lease was canceled.”
This is sad news. We were just down at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (we’ve been working on our report) and it was thrilling to see comics behind glass and treated as valuable museum-worthy pieces. Walker’s art collection is significant, and the whole Empire State Building location sounded like a prime location to spread the comics gospel.
[Link via Journalista]