In Wednesday’s (3/4) New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin reports, “In its continuing effort to battle financial demons, the Metropolitan Opera said it had decided to put up its celebrated Chagall murals as part of the collateral for an existing loan and to ask for an across-the-board 10 percent pay cut from its singers next season. Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said the Chagall murals would free up cash used as collateral for a loan from JPMorgan Chase. Mr. Gelb declined to release information about the value or purpose of the loan or the murals’ appraised value, but the company’s 2007 tax return—the most recent available—said the loan amounted to $35 million. Mr. Gelb said that the loan existed before he became general manager three seasons ago. The Met’s budget this season is $291 million. The murals, visible from the Lincoln Center plaza, are beloved New York treasures. They measure 30 feet by 36 feet and are called ‘The Triumph of Music’ and ‘The Sources of Music.’ … Mr. Gelb played down the recent Chagall deal, which was first reported in New York magazine. ‘We have no intention of giving up the Chagalls,’ he said. ‘We don’t think it’s a major event.’ ”

Posted 3/4/2009