Photo: Joe Rivano Barros / Mission Local.

The primary financial backer of the David Ireland House, Carlie Wilmans, is in the process of withdrawing the eviction of an immigrant family living in a building she owns adjacent to the Capp Street art gallery. 

“The case is still open, but the parties have reached a tentative settlement where the landlord will rescind the evictions and let the tenants stay,” Steve Collier, a Tenderloin Housing Clinic attorney representing the tenants, wrote in an email. “We are in the process of finalizing a settlement, but it is not yet final.” 

The David Ireland House, a conceptual art gallery located at 500 Capp Street named for the artist who once lived there, has been mired in controversy since April. That’s when news broke that Wilmans had evoked the Ellis Act to evict a family from a building she owns at 3463-3465 20th St., which sits next door to the gallery. Wilmans’s lawyer said in April that, after the family was cleared out, the house would be used “for temporary lodging by artists, curators, performers.”

Court records reveal that Wilmans had previously — and successfully — evicted four tenants from the 20th Street home in 2017 for allowing individuals to sleep in the garage. 

Following this year’s Ellis Act attempt, however, tenant advocates condemned Wilmans, and the 500 Capp Foundation attempted to distance itself from the move.  

The David Ireland House’s troubles deepened on June 26, when its board laid off head curator Bob Linder, prompting artists to pull their work from the gallery and sparking protests. In early July, the gallery’s second curator, Diego Villalobos, announced his resignation. His last day is today. The gallery’s representatives cited a lack of money as the primary reasons for Linder’s ouster. 

But according to a source familiar with the situation who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, friction between Linder and Wilmans over the attempted eviction — as well as other disagreements over leadership — frayed their relationship and may have hastened his departure. 

Linder was purportedly “vocal” about not wanting the gallery to be associated with the eviction controversy, and also expressed misgivings about the hiring of the David Ireland House’s current director, Cait Molloy. 

Carlie Wilmans peruses the parlor inside 500 Capp St., former home of late conceptual artist David Ireland, who outfitted the house with custom installations, such as the blowtorch chandelier hanging over the fireplace (above). Photo by Bridget Huber.

Wilmans also allegedly desired greater control over the direction of the gallery. 

She purchased the duplex on 20th Street in May 2016 for $1.59 million with the “intent to vacate it,” according to the Examiner

Eight years earlier, in 2008, Wilmans bought the longtime home of celebrated conceptual artist David Ireland, for $1.6 million. Wilmans, the granddaughter of the prominent arts patron Phyllis Wattis, spent seven years turning it into a museum, while also establishing the 500 Capp Street Foundation.

Wilmans could not be reached for comments. But lawyer Scott Freedman of Zacks, Freedman and Patterson, the firm representing Wilmans, confirmed that a settlement is in the works. “The parties are actively working on it,” he said, noting he hopes to see a resolution “soon.” 

Deepa Verma, the executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, which condemned the attempted Ellis Act eviction, said that a settlement leaving the family in its home would be “great news.” 

“That’s what we had hoped would happen,” Verma said. “It’s great [Wilmans] is doing the right thing in stopping this eviction.”  

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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