NEW YORK — Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus may be shuttering but Big Apple Circus has managed to cartwheel itself out of bankruptcy.
A judge on Tuesday approved a deal that would save the circus by selling its tents, equipment and intellectual property to Big Top Works, an affiliate of the Florida-based investment firm Compass Partners LLC. Compass was the previous winning bidder at an asset auction with a $1.3 million offer.
“Our choice was based on Compass Partners offering the highest bid and making a compelling case to revive the circus performances consistent with the original Big Apple Circus mission and values: serving family audiences in NYC and on tour, sensitive to accessibility and to differently abled audiences,” the Big Apple Circus said in a statement on its website.
The nonprofit Big Apple Circus filed a Chapter 11 petition in November, seeking to continue operating, albeit in a diminished way. The circus said its debts amounted to $8.3 million, against assets of $3.8 million, in its Chapter 11 filing.
Big Apple Circus was founded in 1977 by Paul Binder and Michael Christensen “to establish a performing circus and school for the instruction and artistic development of circus arts,” according to the bankruptcy filing.
The company attempted to save itself with a fundraising campaign, but failed to reach a $2 million goal.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced plans to fold up the big top for “The Greatest Show on Earth” in May, following a 146-year run.