The company, founded in 1948, filed for bankruptcy last September. Throughout its liquidation, ‘Toys “R” Us’ has been selling off its assets at going-out-of-business sales but, because of its size and the cost associated with transportation, ran into trouble trying to find a buyer for the 16-foot tall Geoffrey the Giraffe statue that stood in the lobby of its headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey.
Joseph Malfitano, an advisor to Toys “R” Us throughout its liquidation, wanted to keep the statue intact and, facing an end-of-the-month deadline, scrambled to find a children’s hospital willing to take Geoffrey in.
“I thought having this thing in a hospital would cheer kids up,” Malfitano said according to Fortune. Malfitano’s own son is being treated for type 1 diabetes in a hospital near Denver. That hospital also wanted the statue, but could not accommodate its size.
With a June 30th deadline speeding toward him, Malfitano called out to his network on LinkedIn, explaining that if no one acted soon, the 550-pound statue would be homeless. Andrea Saavedra, Malfitano’s former colleague, saw the posting and connected Malfitano to a hospital willing and able to take Geoffrey in. That hospital was Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, approximately 50 miles away from the Toys “R” Us headquarters.
To remove and transport the statued mascot, Malfitano agreed to pay $10,000. For the mascot itself, he agreed to pay Toys “R” Us an undisclosed amount.
Backing the $6000 cost of installation of the statue into the children’s hospital is Ken Rosen, chair of the bankruptcy department of law firm Lowenstein Sandler, who heard of the plan to move the statue from Saavedra.
“I just thought it’d be really cool for a sick kid to see,” said Rosen. “It’s probably incredibly therapeutic if you’re a sick child looking for a mental health boost.”