Debt-laden Museum Co. files bankruptcy papers
By Jeff St.Onge
Bloomberg News Service
NEW YORK The Museum Co., a retailer of museum replicas and art reproductions with 102 stores in 30 states and Canada, filed for bankruptcy protection after sagging sales left the company saddled with debt.
"Problems were exacerbated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11," Museum Co. said in Chapter 11 papers filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.
New York-based Museum Co. listed $73.4 million in assets and $54.6 million in debts.
Closely held Museum Co., which has one location at Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, is the second major retail casualty of 2002. Brentwood, Tenn.-based Service Merchandise Co. said last week it will shutter its 216 stores and liquidate after operating under Chapter 11 for three years.
Founded in 1989, Museum Co. was purchased in November 1998 by Mercantile Capital Partners LLC for an undisclosed amount. The company had 83 stores at the time.
Museum Co. owes the Wells Fargo Retail Finance LLC unit more than $8.2 million from secured loans, court papers show. Wells Fargo in May agreed to lend the company as much as $35 million to help it expand its Internet unit, MuseumCompany.com, which also filed for bankruptcy.
With stores primarily in high-end shopping malls, Museum Co. sells reproductions and adaptations of museum art, as well as jewelry, models, graphic reproductions, books and music.