GRAMERCY — The Players Club’s only remaining John Singer Sargent painting — worth an estimated $2 million — is returning to the Gramercy Park institution, bringing a glimmer of hope to the cash-strapped actors society.
The club’s treasurer, Giack Selloni, announced the news to club members via email Tuesday, explaining that the club was able to raise enough funds to recover the painting from Borro.com, where the painting was put up as loan collateral.
“Sometime, before the end of the month, our prized John Singer Sargent portrait…will be returning to its rightful home, The Players’ clubhouse,” the email said. “Thanks to all of you who donated to the painting fund that allowed us to make the previous interest payments and keep this hope alive.”
In March, the club used the painting to take out a loan from Borro.com for $300,000 at 39 percent in order to keep the club afloat at the time, said Selloni.
As a part of the loan agreement, the club was required to pay off the loan including interest, totaling $370,470, by Aug. 13, or be in danger of losing the painting altogether, he explained.
Over the past four or five months, the club reached out to members for donations in order to raise enough funds to recover the painting. As the deadline neared though, the club was still falling short of what it needed, Selloni said.
Luckily, a member, who wanted to remain anonymous, loaned the club the money it needed to fill the hole, and the club was able to transfer the money directly to Borro.com.
Selloni would not reveal the amount of the loan.
“We negotiated the terms, and they’re much better than we would’ve gotten anywhere else,” he said.
Before the painting was put up for collateral, the work had been consigned to Warren Adelson, owner of local Adelson Galleries. The club gave him exclusive rights to sell the painting, said Selloni.
Now that the painting is back, the club will actively work to sell the painting, preferably at market value. The painting was appraised at $1.25 million to $2 million, he said.
“We need the funds to get us out of debt," said Selloni. “We’d like to sell the painting to a benevolent donor. We’re hoping they would loan us the painting so that we can keep it in display here.”
Although the painting’s return brings hope of more funds to help the club get out of crippling debt — which has reached $2.5 million — the club is also faced with the added expense of getting the painting insured, Selloni said.
“The fact remains that we will have to now assume the hundreds of dollars per month to maintain the insurance,” his email to members stated.
The club will need a little help from members and possibly a loan from the Hampden-Booth Theatre Library, a non-profit that shares space with the Player Club at 16 Gramercy Park South, Selloni said.
The club expects the painting to be delivered in the next few days. Once it arrives, the painting — a portrait of one of the club’s founding members, Joseph Jefferson — will be put back on display, he said.
The Players owned two other Sargent paintings, each a portrait of the club’s founding members, including one of Edwin Booth and another of Lawrence Barrett, but sold them in past years to pay off debt.
The Jefferson pictures is the last Sargent painting under the club’s control.
“I’m feeling very optimistic,” Selloni said. “This is a huge step for us. A lot of members have joined in making donations to help recover the club. I would like to think that as we make more progress, we would have more people be optimistic.”