Save the Corcoran Alleges “Malfeasance” by Museum Leaders

The nonprofit institution set up to protest the museum’s relocation has sent a damning letter via the legal firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Save the Corcoran, the organization set up to officially oppose the sale of the Corcoran’s
1897 historic building in DC, today sent a letter via legal firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
to the museum’s leadership alleging mismanagement, conflict of interest among board
members and new employees, and corporate waste.

Addressed to
Harry Hopper, chairman of the board of trustees,
Fred Bollerer, president and CEO, and
Lauren Garcia, COO, the letter states, “For the last several months, we have monitored events at
the Corcoran and have engaged in an extensive factual and legal investigation of the
Corcoran’s current circumstances. Regrettably, it has become clear that the Corcoran
has been fundamentally and tragically mismanaged in recent years.”

Among the allegations:

—That the Corcoran’s intended move outside of DC is illegal and in direct conflict
with the museum’s founding charter.

—That the board’s expressed interest in relocating to Alexandria is a conflict of
interest given Hopper and Garcia’s involvement in the redevelopment of the Alexandria

—That new communications director
Mimi Carter is also invested personally in Alexandria, as a member of Securing Alexandria’s Future
alongside Garcia, and a member of the Alexandria school board. The letter also states
that Carter has “little to no relevant nonprofit fundraising experience.”

—That financial mismanagement has led to the Corcoran bringing in $3.2 million in
charitable donations in 2010, compared with $20.1 million in 2001, $13 million in
2006, and $8.2 million in 2007. “The Corcoran’s financial woes are largely self-inflicted
and irreconcilable with the money now being spent on consultants affiliated with Mr.
Bollerer’s consulting firm,” states the letter.

—That potential donors have been turned away by the Corcoran because the museum “lacked
a strategic plan and could not guarantee how the funds would be used.”

—That Hopper and Bollerer both left the country for several weeks at a time during
the summer and fall when the Corcoran’s sale was first announced, at a time when “these
leaders should have been devoting their efforts to strengthening the Corcoran.”

—That the reasons the museum states for needing to sell its building—including renovation
costs that could total $130 million—are inaccurate. “Our factual investigation has
confirmed that this number is wildly inflated and is not credible,” states the letter.
“The $130 million figure bakes in high-end upgrades and repairs that, when pressed,
Corcoran leadership concede do not need to be made.”

The letter asks that the museum stop any further investigation into relocating to
Alexandria and fill the three vacant positions on its board of trustees with people
selected by Save the Corcoran. “Given that conditions at the museum appear to be much
worse than Corcoran officials are publicly acknowledging, we request a response to
our demand for three Board seats by no later than Friday, October 19.”

We’ve requested comment from the museum and will update as we hear back.


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