South Central Los Angeles Regional Center Prevails
Historic Murals Will Stay in Community
The long-standing legal dispute over the ownership of two murals depicting the contributions of African Americans to the history of California has been settled. The settlement is the result of extensive mediation talks between the California Insurance Commissioner and Community Impact Development II (“CID”). CID is a subsidiary of Friends of South Central Los Angeles Regional Center (SCLARC) which was established to raise funds to support the unmet needs of Developmentally Disabled persons receiving services from one of Los Angeles’ largest non-profit organizations, South Central Los Angeles Regional Center. CID purchased the historic Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building to serve as the future headquarters of SCLARC.
The murals originally commissioned by the Board of Directors of GSM were previously appraised at $2.5 million dollars each and were located in the lobby since the opening of the building in 1949. The dispute over the murals was initiated in 2009 after CID was informed that the two murals inside the building they owned would be removed and sold by the Commissioner to settle estate debts of the former GSM Life Insurance Company. Due to the pending approval of the settlement by the court the exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. The settlement concludes the dispute and will allow CID to retain possession of the priceless works of art inside the building’s lobby.
Friends of SCLARC’s Board President Malcolm Bennett announced, “We are excited over the outcome of the settlement and know that we share our excitement with every other historian, preservationist and LA native that understands the value of these murals to our community and city’s history.”
SCLARC’s Board President, Lisa Sanchez, also indicated that her organization “was pleased to put this dispute behind us and is poised to continue with the plans for renovating the building.”
During the renovation of the Golden State Mutual Building, CID would like to publicly display the murals in museums, universities or exhibitions prior to reinstalling them into the building. CID is actively pursuing grants and donations from foundations to support the restoration and maintenance of these epic pieces. “We will now seek the community’s assistance to raise funds to preserve and share the iconic art works. The murals have not been through any sort of preservation process since they were installed on the walls over 60 years ago” said Dexter A. Henderson, SCLARC’s Executive Director.
Funds generated from these exhibits would allow ownership to cover the construction cost that was used to settle the litigation case, to help preserve the murals and to continue with ownership’s vision to allow the community to show the murals in an open forum. As soon as the building renovation is completed, SCLARC plans to have organized tours of the lobby so these dynamic works of art are seen by community members and educational groups through coordinated visits.
Councilmember Bernard C. Parks and his staff, the Los Angeles Conservancy, West Adams Heritage Association and several other community groups have supported this effort to maintain the murals in the GSM building. Their hard work and perseverance paid off because the Historic murals are here to stay.