Please Touch Museum May Be Forced to Sell Off Some Exhibits

A lawyer for bondholders threatened the Please Touch Museum, heavily in debt, with a sale of its assets — including exhibits.

The owners of the Please Touch Museum’s bond debt say they will begin selling off its assets — including exhibits.

The plan to sell assets was detailed in a June 18 letter from a lawyer for the U.S. Bank National Association, representing creditors with $60 million in Please Touch Museum debt. The two sides are attempting to negotiate a settlement even as the one side threatens to sell off museum exhibits.

The hefty debt stems from the museum’s 2008 move from Center City to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park. The museum attempted to raise $88 million for the move but failed. Another attempt to raise $30 million to finance debt payments in 2011 also stalled.

Please Touch, for its part, says the bondholders are overstepping their bounds. The Inquirer quotes a letter from museum lawyer Gretchen Santamour that says the trustees have no right to many of the items that could be up for sale and that selling them “would result in damages to the museum for which the trustee would be liable.” (The paper also notes, sensibly, that “it is not clear how much money a miniature SEPTA bus or a model of the Statue of Liberty’s arm wrought in recycled plastic toys could fetch.”)

Last week, Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term rating of Please Touch bonds from CC to D. The museum skipped a $2 million payment last September, putting it in default. It may file for Chapter 11. Has anyone suggested a benefit concert with Pixanne, Gene London and Captain Noah? Jerry Blavat could be the hype man.