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Monday, August 30, 2010

Somerhill Gallery declares Chapter 7, owes more than a quarter-million dollars to artists

Posted by on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 3:05 PM

Disclosure: The Indy’s Durham office is in the same building as Somerhill Gallery. The Indy is also a creditor in the gallery’s bankruptcy proceedings for advertising that has not been paid.

Somerhill Gallery President Joe Rowand lives in a 4,500-square-foot mansion filled with fine art on a 22.5-acre estate outfitted with a saltwater swimming pool and separate guest quarters—yet his gallery owes nearly $200,000 in back rent and $277,000 to artists whose work it consigned. somerhillcreditorlist.pdf

And during the gallery’s financial meltdown, Rowand has drawn a $15,000 monthly salary, according to federal bankruptcy court documents. (See pages 4-5 of the document.) motiontopay.pdf

Somerhill declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, but converted it to Chapter 7 last week.

The gallery, which moved from Chapel Hill to Durham in 2008, is housed in a 9,663-square-foot space on the first floor of the Venable Building, 302 E. Pettigrew St., in Durham. Scientific Properties owns the building. Monthly rent is $17,762, according to court documents; the gallery has not paid rent for almost a year.

Scientific Properties has asked the court to require the gallery pay rent and fees and to vacate the premises. In that document, Scientific Properties cites a monthly debtor report showing that in both May and June, Rowand received $15,583 in salary and an additional $3,384 in health insurance.

The gallery has asked to stay in the Venable Building until it can move to a new space, which is not named in court documents.

Rowand was not available for comment Monday afternoon on the bankruptcy, his salary or the gallery’s move.

Other debts include $200,000 to philanthropist Rolf Rosenthal of Locust Valley, N.Y. He and his wife, Elizabeth, headed a charitable foundation that funded many artistic programs, including episodes of PBS’ American Masters series. Rosenthal died in February 2009.

In May, the monthly debtor report shows that “the gallery sold consigned property for $10,252, yet had not paid the persons who consigned the art.” The gallery hopes to raise $264,000 in a liquidation sale of its assets.

(H/T BullCityRising on the Chapter 7 news.)

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