A group of tech bigshots led by investor Ron Conway have exposed what Conway says is a “conspiracy” to scuttle an art museum funded by George Lucas in San Francisco.
Lucas offered to fund and build the museum, which was going to include his collection of comic and digital art, in 2012.
However, the Presidio Trust, a government agency that oversees land use in the park where the museum was to be located, unanimously rejected the proposal in 2014. Lucas has since moved the proposed museum to Chicago.
Supporters of the museum believed it would be a huge economic boon to the city. So Conway and 27 others, including Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook cofounder and billionaire Sean Parker, Twitter cofounder Biz Stone, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, decided to find out why the plan was rejected.
The group submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for emails related to the rejection. The results came back, and Conway says the private emails between various employees of the Trust show a “conspiracy” to kill the museum before it could be built.
In an email to Business Insider, Conway writes, “The Presidio Trust’s rejection of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum (LCAM) was a rigged process. Trust officials privately ruled out the LCAM bid before the proposal was even submitted, continued to plot against the LCAM throughout the process, and violated their own policies by colluding with a competing group to submit a competing proposal.”
For instance, in an email sent in January 2013 — before formal proposals were submitted — a Presidio Trust official named Tia Lombardi emailed a consultant saying “GL’s building will NEVER get built.”
President Obama appointed three new members to the Trust last month, which could re-open the door to the museum being built. Conway told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Thank God, the president of the United States got out the broom and swept out the trust by removing (board President) Nancy Bechtle and the other colluders.”
Business Insider has reached out to the Presidio Trust for comment and will update this story when we hear back.