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Offline PoisonPen7

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« 2021-Jan-31, 02:21 AM Reply #300 »
MONA’s owner suffering for his art

A decade on from the opening of his Museum of Old and New Art, there’s no doubt David Walsh has put Tassie on the map, but the exercise has also proved to be a drain on his personal finances.

The professional gambler and art collector’s latest accounts lodged with ASIC earlier this month show Moorilla Estate — the holding company for the museum — fell to a $19.94m loss for financial year 2020, with Walsh himself, the group’s only director, classifying the entity as a going concern.

Still, the bottom line result is an improvement on last year’s $28.85m loss, even after the oversized hit from the coronavirus pandemic.

Walsh reports that visitors to the museum dropped by 25 per cent for the year to 303,474 after he was forced to shut the doors in March — wiping out the 6 per cent visitor growth in the months prior.

Revenue for the year was down 16.4 per to $34.3m, with only one show — New Zealand artist Simon Denny’s Mine — on exhibit.

The bigger hit, though, has been to the 60-year-old’s own hip pocket — interest-free loans from his aptly named Downward Spiral Enterprises Pty Ltd to the museum ballooned by $56.8m in the past year to a grand total of $327.5m.

In the scheme of things it makes his $9.2m line of credit and $15.7m loan, both from Matt Comyn’s CBA, look like a walk in the park.

Still, it doesn’t seem to bother the multi-millionaire, who says he and other related parties will continue to provide financial support to ensure the entity is able to meet its obligations.

“MONA will lose more money closed than open (oddly, we haven’t seen a reduction in visitation) so, unlike Dark Mofo, I’m incentivised to keep it going. And I owe the staff, big time,” Walsh wrote in a letter back in March.

For the record, MONA has run at a loss every year since it was first established in 2015.

While the 2020 Dark Mofo festival got the cut thanks to COVID, there was a silver lining — and not just that we were all spared the gaggle of bare bottoms in the annual Nude Solstice Swim.

The museum’s wages bill was shaved by $2m for the year to $24.1m thanks in part to ScoMo’s JobKeeper scheme along with some state government payroll tax relief.