News / USA

Deal Emerges to Save Detroit Institute of Arts Collection

Deal Emerges to Save Detroit Institute of Arts Collectioni
X
January 21, 2014 11:59 PM
The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum houses one of the top art collections in the world. So when Detroit went bankrupt, that collection - owned by the city - became one of the most controversial issues in the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, an emerging deal with several national foundations offers city officials a way out of the crisis, and could ultimately save the museum and its valuable collection
Kane Farabaugh
— The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum houses one of the top art collections in the world.  So when Detroit went bankrupt, that collection - owned by the city - became one of the most controversial issues in the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.  An emerging deal with several national foundations offers city officials a way out of the crisis, and could ultimately save the museum and its valuable collection.

The art collection housed in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, or DIA, draws throngs of visitors from around the world each year.

“You can tell the story of Western art through this collection," said Mark Stryker.

Which makes it hard to put a price tag on it, says Detroit Free Press Art Reporter Mark Stryker.

“It’s invaluable, irreplaceable," he said.

But a price is the very thing Detroit’s emergency manager Kevyn Orr seeks as he takes the city through bankruptcy, says Wayne State University Law Professor Laura Bartell.

“At the very beginning of this bankruptcy, Kevyn Orr made it clear that the city of Detroit owned the assets of the DIA," said Bartell.

“It is a city owned collection, and that makes it different from almost every other museum in America, which operate as independent, private nonprofits," said Stryker.

As the complex bankruptcy case winds through federal court, Orr enlisted Christie's auction house to value the collection, with one important caveat.

“He asked Christie's to specifically evaluate only the works in the collection that were bought by the city directly," said Stryker.

That translates into about 2,000 items, roughly five percent of the DIA’s 66,000 works.  But it does include some of the premiere pieces, including Vincent Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait with Hat.”

"Christie's evaluated those works to be worth somewhere between $450 million up to about $870 million," said Mark Stryker.

In 2012, voters in three surrounding counties supported a property tax hike to fund the museum in exchange for free admission.  Stryker says any sale of the DIA’s assets could inflict more damage than simply losing its important pieces.

“They would rescind the tax if any of the art was sold, so that means that any sale would quite quickly lead to the closure of the museum," he said.

Which means emergency manager Kevyn Orr was stuck between a rock and hard place.

“Would you want to be the man who went down in history as the man who destroyed the Detroit Institute of Arts?  I don’t think anybody wants to be in that position.  If he can craft a plan of adjustment without selling the DIA’s assets, he’s going to do it," said Laura Bartell.

That plan got a boost in January from several national foundations, including the Ford Foundation and the John S. and James. L Knight Foundation.  Together, they’ve pledged about $330 million to keep the DIA’s assets off the auction block.

“The DIA would be spun off from the city to create a separate nonprofit, separate from city control so this kind of situation, the city would never find itself in this situation again," said Stryker.

The amount pledged does fall below Christie’s appraisal of the items, and creditors could seek more money.  But the proposed deal offers Orr a way out of the crisis, and Stryker says it is the most promising option on the table to keep the DIA’s art in Detroit.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid