February 24, 2008 - e-flux - Pawnshop to file for bankruptcy
February 24, 2008

Pawnshop to file for bankruptcy

Pawnshop to file for bankruptcy
February 29th, 2008

53 Ludlow street
New York, NY 10002

Pawnshop to file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK, February 24th 2008 —Troubled art project by Julieta Aranda, Liz Linden and Anton Vidokle, entitled Pawnshop, said yesterday it will close at the end of this month and file for bankruptcy protection, becoming the latest such lender to fall to the mounting mortgage and credit crises and general recession around the United States.

The artists said in an announcement that they have stopped accepting new submissions, and that talks are underway with potential buyers to leverage its artistic assets. Pawnshop said that it has been unable to complete a hoped-for deal for further financing with Manhattan-based Angelo, Lewis & Co.

Pawnshop said in its announcement, “We do not expect to be able to consummate the…transaction with Angelo, Lewis & Co. Furthermore, Pawnshop does not believe that it will be able to continue as a going concern.” Staff of Pawnshop and Angelo, Lewis & Co. did not return calls for comment.

Pawnshop, which has reduced its workforce in recent months, did not spell out the impact of the bankruptcy on the remaining employees.

But at least five people were seen leaving Pawnshop ‘s office on Ludlow Street with boxes by early afternoon yesterday and three acknowledged that they had been laid off, although they would not give their names. Another person said there had been “a lot of tears” at the shop because “people love this place.” People said they would not give their names because Pawnshop had told them not to talk to the press.

Charles Seilinger, founder of Fast Easy Funding in Wheehawken, NJ, said there was little surprise in Pawnshop’s bankruptcy. “I was shocked that they hung on as long as they did,” Seilinger said. “They were only a small-time lender. With the current economic climate, nobody is willing to buy that art stuff.”

A former Pawnshop assistant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was taken aback by the bankruptcy filing. “I am surprised because it’s such a well-run art project,” said the former assistant, who worked at Pawnshop for several months before being laid off a few days ago. “They were not by any stretch of the imagination a project that took risks. That was evident in their artists line-up. But I’m not surprised that the market forces were bigger than they were. Unfortunately, they were not operating in a vacuum.”

Pawnshop ‘s announcement, coming on the same day that President Bush announced the federal government’s plan to try to defuse the mortgage crisis, follows other lender companies around the country filing for bankruptcy, including the giant American Home Mortgage. American Home, one of the top 10 mortgage companies in the country, collapsed over the summer. 

The final day of Pawnshop ‘s operation in New York — Friday, February 29th, dubbed Black Friday by industry insiders, is expected to feature a massive “going out of business” sale and a goodbye reception for patrons of the establishment. The precise hour of the reception has not been confirmed, but an ex-employee told us that she is “95% sure the shop will stay open real late on this last day, at least till 10PM and possibly even later.”

Unconfirmed rumors surrounding the closing in New York suggest that Aranda, Linden & Vidokle are trying to relocate Pawnshop to a more robust economic zone. Rotterdam and Beijing were named among several possible new locations. 

Pawnshop ‘s controversy has recently appeared in the New York Times and the BBC world radio. 

At its peak, Pawnshop included works by: Lucas Ajemian, Ayreen Anastas, James Angus, Julieta Aranda, Artemio, Julie Ault, Fia Backström, Steven Baldi, Agnes Barley, Julien J. Bismuth, Bengala, Mike Bouchet, Ethan Breckenridge, Willie Brisco & Danna Wajda, Kadar Brock, AA Bronson/General Idea, François Bucher, Paul Chan, Jan Christensen, Heman Chong, COPYSHOP/Superflex, Keren Cytter, Marcelline Delbecq, Wilson Diaz, Nico Dockx, Christoph Draeger, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Jakup Ferri, Jean-Pascal Flavien, Claire Fontaine, Rene Gabri, Nikolas Gambaroff, Mario Garcia Torres, Jaime Gecker, Benjamin Gervis, Andrea Geyer, Simryn Gill, Liam Gillick, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Martha Rosler, Diango Hernández, Gregory Hilton, Ralf Homann, Karl Holmqvist, Sejla Kameric, Matt Keegan, Christoph Keller, Brandon Kennedy, Gabriel Kuri, Adriana Lara, Annika Larsson, Francine LeClercq, Gabriel Lester, Liz Linden, Esther Lu, Rodrigo Mallea Lira, Aleksandra Mir, Naeem Mohaiemen, Lucas Moran, Carlos Motta, Sina Najafi, Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, Olaf Nicolai, Ernesto Neto, Ylva Ogland, Yoshua Okon, Serge Onnen, Joe Pflieger, Lisi Raskin, Fay Ray, Martha Rosler, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Anri Sala, Eduardo Sarabia, Aaron Simonton, Matt Sheridan Smith, Michael Smith, Nedko Solakov, Kimsooja, Francesco Spampinato, Anna Stein, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Gabriela Vainsencher, Costa Vece, Anton Vidokle, Lawrence Weiner, Florian Wüst and Andrea Zittel.

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