Should bankrupt Detroit sell off its world-famous $2.5BILLION art collection to pay its creditors?
By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 22 July 2013
Collectors estimate that the entire collections could be worth up to $2.5billion – a sizable payment toward the city’s $18billion long-term debt.
Unlike most other major art museums, which are owned by trusts and operated separately from the cities where they reside, the Detroit Institute of Arts is a city-owned facility.
A spokesman for Kevyn Orr, the state-appointed emergency manager of the troubled city, said the art museum collection could be come a bargaining chip in negotiations with creditors.
‘We haven’t proposed selling any asset. But we haven’t taken any asset off the table. We can’t. We cannot negotiate in good faith with our creditors by taking assets off the table,’ spokesman Bill Nowling told the New York Times.
The art collection, housed in a grand Beaux-Arts museum built in 1927, has been one of the cultural bright points in the beleaguered city.
Plagued by some of the highest crime and unemployment rates in the country, the once-thriving Motor City has become a shadow of itself. Hundreds of thousands of residents have fled to the suburbs. Entire blocks are blighted by abandoned streets.
But, the Detroit Institute of Arts continues to draw people downtown. The museum had some 600,000 visitors last year. Three neighboring counties – home to Detroit’s wealthy suburbs – agreed to raise a tax to support the museum.
Any attempts to liquidate the museum’s collection could face resistance from arts patrons, who still donate tens of millions of dollars a year to the DIA.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette weighed in last month and attempted to bar any future creditors from seeking the sale of the city’s works of art.
He wrote a legal opinion arguing that the collection is ‘held by a charitable trust for the people of Michigan’ and that the city doesn’t actually own the art – so the city can’t sell the art.
Patrons are also upset. They say the city would be irreversibly losing a part of itself.
‘We’re talking about selling history,’ patron Rod Spencer told CBS News.
‘How can you sell family history?’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2373140/Should-bankrupt-Detroit-sell-world-famous-2-5BILLION-art-collection-pay-creditors.html#ixzz2ZlB9Lb00
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