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 Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid