One month after the Princeton Club in midtown Manhattan shut its door down indefinitely after defaulting on nearly $40 million in mortgage debt, the venue frequented by so many grads of the Ivy safety school may have found a savior in ex-Google CEO, billionaire Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt (obviously a Princeton graduate) who has donated tens of millions to the Ivy League school in the past and who most recently played a crucial role in Hillary Clinton’s failed attempt to defeat Donald Trump for the 2016 election, has bid on the club’s loan through his family’s investment office, Bloomberg reports citing people familiar with the situation.
If his bid wins, Schmidt would provide the funds to make improvements so the 10-story private club on West 43rd Street is more suitable as a co-working space, Bloomberg sources said. It’s not known how many other bidders Schmidt is competing with or if his current bid is the highest. The auction is scheduled to conclude Nov. 29.
The storied club which was founded in 1866 and includes two restaurants, banquet space, squash courts and 58 guest rooms, ran out of cash after being closed for 15 months during the pandemic and losing about one-third of its 6,000 dues-paying members. After efforts to raise capital failed, lender Sterling National Bank put the club’s $39.3 million debt in default and enlisted Newmark Group to sell the note by the end of November.
Unlike other Manhattan-based Ivy League clubs, some of which are supported financially by their associated schools, the Princeton club has no affiliation with Princeton University; that meant it was also the only one to default.
Schmidt, 66, ranks 56th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $27.9 billion. The former Google chief executive officer’s family investment office is based in the same Menlo Park, California, building that also houses his philanthropic foundation, established in 2006 with his wife Wendy Schmidt, Bloomberg notes.
A former trustee of Princeton University, Schmidt is also on the club’s member roster. His donations over the years to Princeton include $25 million in 2009 to support technology research, money to rebuild the school’s computer science department and $5 million last year to endow a professorship of indigenous studies.