Geoffrey the Giraffe has gone from the morgue to the hospital.
Toys “R” Us, the toy retailer that’s liquidating in bankruptcy, found a New Jersey children’s hospital that was willing to take the 16-foot tall statue of the African mammal that stood in the lobby of its headquarters.
The chain has held going-out-of business sales at its stores and plans to auction off its name but struggled to find a buyer for the 550-pound fiberglass statue, mainly because of the expense associated with removing and transporting it. Joseph Malfitano, whose Malfitano Partners advised on the liquidation of the chain’s assets, wanted to preserve the mascot and last month began to look for a children’s hospital willing to take it in, he said.
“I thought having this thing in a hospital would cheer kids up,” he said. The giraffe is smiling, and is raising his forelegs triumphantly as if he has just completed a gymnastic flip.
The clock was ticking. There was a June 30 deadline to finish sales at Toys “R” Us headquarters in Wayne, N.J., and several other hospitals that were interested in the statue passed because of its size. Then Malfitano posted a note on his LinkedIn page that said Geoffrey needed a home. A former colleague, Andrea Saavedra, saw the posting, made some calls and eventually connected Malfitano to a hospital that agreed to take the statue: the Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital in New Brunswick.
“As a resident of New Jersey, I felt pretty strongly that this iconic piece of retail history stay in New Jersey,” Saavedra said.
Malfitano agreed to donate the $10,000 it would cost for the statue to be removed, packed and shipped around 50 miles to New Brunswick, plus to pay a sum he’d rather not disclose to Toys “R” Us for the mascot. Ken Rosen, chair of the bankruptcy department at law firm Lowenstein Sandler, heard about the plan from Saavedra and agreed with his wife to donate the cost of Geoffrey’s installation at the hospital, which he expects to be about $6,000.