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Children’s Museum to file for bankruptcy

by Brad A. Greenberg

April 3, 2009 | 2:07 pm

Count the Los Angeles Children’s Museum as a second-party victim of Bruce Friedman, who was sued last month by the SEC for allegedly misappropriating $17 million in a real estate fraud. His Friedman Charitable Foundation had been the museum’s biggest benefactor, gifting $10 million of the $58.5 million needed for the long-delayed museum near Hansen Dam.

But largely in response to Friedman’s legal troubles, the museum plans to file for bankruptcy:

Without the $10-million gift, the museum would be about $22 million short of the $58.5 million it needs to open, Glassman said.

The museum’s board of governors, which includes state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) and former Assemblymen Mike Roos and Richard Katz, voted March 27 to declare bankruptcy.

Museum officials have been in discussions with a court-appointed receiver managing Friedman’s assets to determine whether the museum needs to return the money it has received from Friedman. Meanwhile, the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office have opened a criminal investigation into Friedman’s operations.

The museum had not received a single donation since the SEC’s action against Friedman was disclosed. It lost about $100,000 in the last month when concerned donors rescinded their pledges, Glassman said.

“The only thing that could change the course is if there were one or more angel donors who would step in and see the value of the project,” Glassman said. “Otherwise, we’ll probably not see a children’s museum in Los Angeles.”

The Dodgers, with which Friedman had also pledged support for the building of 42 community baseball fields across the region, are expected to survive, possibly even win the pennant.

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