April 01, 2015

Millions in Pledges to Toronto Museum Still Unpaid

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto has yet to collect tens of millions of dollars in years-old pledges to a major renovation project for which the institution was plunged into debt, The Globe and Mail writes. The unfulfilled donations, heavily promoted at the time they were given, include more than a third of a $23 million 2003 pledge by billionaire investor Michael Lee-Chin, whose name adorns the Crystal, steel-and-glass facade that was a focus of the museum's mid-2000s capital campaign.

According to the newspaper's investigation of the campaign and its fiscal fallout for the museum, Mr. Lee-Chin's payments were significantly slowed by the financial crisis, which hit then-mutual-fund firm hard. Shreyas Ajmera, a food-industry magnate, and Alex Shnaider, a billionaire entrepreneur, made pledges of $4 million to $8 million but have paid little to date.

The uncollected donations have contributed to the museum's troubles paying off debt associated with the $300 million renovation project that included construction of the Crystal, The Globe and Mail says. The museum has missed loan payments and faced higher than expected interest charges on the liability, which has been partly assumed by Ontario taxpayers.