A defunct San Francisco church that was bought with $5 million of funding cash from a Russian oligarch linked to President Vladimir Putin is again in the marketplace after falling into foreclosures.
The property, at the moment listed by Colliers, consists of each the historic Catholic sanctuary known as Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and an hooked up co-living area positioned at 906-908 Broadway within the metropolis’s tony Russian Hill neighborhood.
Whereas the itemizing describes an “distinctive alternative” for a purchaser, it makes no point out of the property’s weird historical past—and it’s a doozy.
In 2016, enterprise agency GVA Capital bought the church for $7 million with the objective of changing the previous home of worship right into a startup incubator and tech occasion area known as the Startup Temple.
Of that sum, $5 million got here from Suleyman Kerimov, considered one of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen and a member of the nation’s higher home of parliament, The Normal present in a November 2022 investigation.
Kerimov is a detailed ally of Putin and has ties to a monetary community believed to carry the Russian chief’s wealth, in response to the European Union and former reporting by the Worldwide Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
In 2018, the U.S. Treasury added Kerimov to its sanctions record and later froze $1 billion of his property in america, together with a Delaware belief linked to the church’s buy.
The Normal’s evaluation of lots of of inner memos, emails and courtroom information established for the primary time the possession construction of that belief and different corporations in a stack of Kerimov-connected entities.
Transferring Kerimov’s cash into the Bay Space required greater than a dozen attorneys, accountants, funding managers, bankers, brokers and different consultants, The Normal discovered.
Odd Enterprise Thought
The Startup Temple was the brainchild of Pavel Cherkashin, a Russian businessman residing within the Bay Space.
Along with Magomed Musaev, a Russian enterprise capitalist and president of the Russian version of Forbes journal, Cherkashin based GVA Capital to attach Russian traders to early-stage U.S. startups.
In complete, GVA invested $28 million of Kerimov’s cash into Bay Space entities. Nearly all of that—$20 million—went to Luminar Applied sciences, an organization that develops programs for self-driving automobiles.
Buying the defunct church could also be Kerimov’s most uncommon funding. In a January 2017 column in App Developer Journal, Cherkashin in contrast startup tradition to a “non secular expertise” and outlined his concept for a tech church.
That concept proved tougher to implement in apply. After launching, the Startup Temple held plenty of tech-related occasions, together with a TEDx discuss, a rave and an “intercontinental startup battle.”
Finally, nevertheless, it struggled to show a revenue. By 2020, it was planning to host faculty proms and weddings along with tech occasions.
The church entered foreclosures in 2020, Cherkashin instructed The Normal final 12 months.
In March, Lightstone Capital bought the property throughout a judicial foreclosures sale. In response to the San Francisco Enterprise Occasions, Colliers is now trying to promote it for roughly $7 million—basically what GVA Capital paid for it.
Worsening the Metropolis’s Issues
The sanctioning of Kerimov and the autumn of the Startup Temple weren’t the final time GVA Capital would come to public consideration in america.
In Could, Axios reported that Austin Russell, the 28-year-old American CEO of Luminar Applied sciences, led a bid to purchase 82% of Forbes for $656 million.
In response to Axios’ sources, Russell was introduced into the deal by GVA Capital president Musaev. Regardless of serving because the face of the deal, Russell offered solely $10 million of the cash. The remaining got here from international traders.
The church’s temporary tenure as a temple of the Bay Space tech growth was greater than a flash within the pan. It additionally had a distinctly detrimental impact on a metropolis that has lengthy struggled with homelessness.
When GVA Capital supplied $7 million to buy the church in 2016, Aaron Peskin, a member of the Board of Supervisors whose district consists of Russian Hill, was angling to have the town lease the property and switch it right into a homeless shelter.
“Had it not been for this big infusion of money, it will have been a navigation middle someplace round 2016,” Peskin instructed The Normal final 12 months.