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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs