Former White Stripes frontman Jack White received widespread praise last month when it was revealed he footed a $142,000 tax bill the Detroit Masonic Temple owed as the historic building was set to be auctioned off.
According to conflicting reports, the move may have been in vain: The Detroit News reports the Masonic Temple owners filed for bankruptcy Sunday,
The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the Detroit Masonic Temple Theatre Co. lists 49 creditors, with estimated assets up to $50,000; estimated liabilities between $100,000 and $500,000, the News reports.
Except, it's unclear if the building actually did file for bankruptcy. Later in the morning, WDIV ran a conflicting report quoting the spokesman of the "current owner," the Masonic Temple Association, saying the bankruptcy is tied to a previous owner and the building had not filed.
Brad Dizik said, contrary to a published report, the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing under the Detroit Masonic Temple Corporation is connected a former owner who is facing several lawsuits.
However, Dizik says, the current owners, the Masonic Temple Association, do not have any outstanding debt or concerns of closing.
It seems this ties back to a story the News ran a few months ago, when the Temple briefly went into foreclosure, over who actually owned the building. The story has since hit the News' archives, but a quick LexisNexis search pulled it up.
The April 27 story from News reporter Louis Aguilar said the Temple's former management company, Sterling Heights-based Halberd Holdings LLC, alleged it owned the building.
The Masonic Temple Association President Roger Sobran told the News its $142,000 overdue bill stemmed from the partnership with Halberd when it left the association with $500,000 in debt. So, the association ended the partnership with Halberd — leading to alleged contract breaches from both parties that were filed in court.
Aguilar reported that court documents show the Masonic Temple association was set to sell the building to Halberd through a purchase agreement, but it was terminated because Halberd didn't hack it as operators of the facility.
A search on Michigan's Licensing and Regulatory Affairs lists a Michael J. Smith as Halberd's proprietor, also one of the two individuals listed as the debtors in the Detroit Masonic Temple Theater Co. Chapter 11 filing.
So, basically, this is all tied back to some kerfuffle over who owns the building, and that's not mentioned in the News story regarding the bankruptcy filing. I guess it appears they forgot about that.
(Update: The News got a quote from the spokesman here that WDIV quoted. "The News erroneously reported the owners of the venue filed for bankruptcy. The Masonic Temple Association, which owns the facility, has no involvement in the filing, according to Brad Dizik, a senior adviser to the owner’s board of directors.")
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)